Skip to main content

Full text of "The Lord Of The Rings series"

See other formats


"trti 



“THE LORD OF THE RINGS” 

Pjrt Thttt 

THE RETURN 
OF THE KING 



J.R.R.ToIkien 




* BOOK V * 



Chapter 1 . Minas Tirith 



Pippin looked out from the shelter of Gandalf s cloak. He wondered if 
he was awake or still sleeping, still in the swift -moving dream in which he 
had been wrapped so long since the great ride began. The dark world was 
rushing by and the wind sang loudly in his ears. He could see nothing but 
the wheeling stars, and away to his right vast shadows against the sky where 
the mountains of the South marched past. Sleepily he tried to reckon the 
times and stages of their journey, but his memory was drowsy and uncertain. 

There had been the first ride at terrible speed without a halt, and 
then in the dawn he had seen a pale gleam of gold, and they had come to the 
silent town and the great empty house on the hill. And hardly had they 
reached its shelter when the winged shadow had passed over once again, and 
men wilted with fear. But Gandalf had spoken soft words to him, and he had 
slept in a corner, tired but uneasy, dimly aware of comings and goings and 
of men talking and Gandalf giving orders. And then again riding, riding in 
the night. This was the second, no, the third night since he had looked in 
the Stone. And with that hideous memory he woke fully, and shivered, and the 
noise of the wind became filled with menacing voices. 

A light kindled in the sky, a blaze of yellow fire behind dark barriers 
Pippin cowered back, afraid for a moment, wondering into what dreadful 
country Gandalf was bearing him. He rubbed his eyes, and then he saw that it 
was the moon rising above the eastern shadows, now almost at the full. So 
the night was not yet old and for hours the dark journey would go on. He 
stirred and spoke. 

’Where are we, Gandalf?' he asked. 

'In the realm of Gondor,' the wizard answered. 'The land of Anurien is 
still passing by.' 

There was a silence again for a while. Then, 'What is that?' cried 
Pippin suddenly, clutching at Gandalf s cloak. 'Look! Fire, red fire! Are 
there dragons in this land? Look, there is another!' 

For answer Gandalf cried aloud to his horse. 'On, Shadowfax! We must 




hasten. Time is short. See! The beacons of Gondor are alight, calling for 
aid. War is kindled. See, there is the fire on Amon Don, and flame on 
Eilenach; and there they go speeding west: Nardol, Erelas, Min-Rimmon, 
Calenhad, and the Elalifirien on the borders of Rohan.' 

But Shadowfax paused in his stride, slowing to a walk, and then he 
lifted up his head and neighed. And out of the darkness the answering neigh 
of other horses came; and presently the thudding of hoofs was heard, and 
three riders swept up and passed like flying ghosts in the moon and vanished 
into the West. Then Shadowfax gathered himself together and sprang away, 
and 

the night flowed over him like a roaring wind. 

Pippin became drowsy again and paid little attention to Gandalf telling 
him of the customs of Gondor, and how the Lord of the City had beacons built 
on the tops of outlying hills along both borders of the great range, and 
maintained posts at these points where fresh horses were always in readiness 
to bear his errand-riders to Rohan in the North, or to B elf alas in the 
South. 'It is long since the beacons of the North were lit,' he said; 'and 
in the ancient days of Gondor they were not needed, for they had the Seven 
Stones.' Pippin stirred uneasily. 

'Sleep again, and do not be afraid!' said Gandalf. 'For you are not 
going like Frodo to Mordor, but to Minas Tirith, and there you will be as 
safe as you can be anywhere in these days. If Gondor falls, or the Ring is 
taken, then the Shire will be no refuge.' 

'You do not comfort me,' said Pippin, but nonetheless sleep crept over 
him. The last thing that he remembered before he fell into deep dream was a 
glimpse of high white peaks, glimmering like floating isles above the clouds 
as they caught the light of the westering moon. He wondered where Frodo was, 
and if he was already in Mordor, or if he was dead; and he did not know that 
Frodo from far away looked on that same moon as it set beyond Gondor ere the 
coming of the day. 

Pippin woke to the sound of voices. Another day of hiding and a night 
of journey had fleeted by. It was twilight: the cold dawn was at hand again, 
and chill grey mists were about them. Shadowfax stood steaming with sweat, 
but he held his neck proudly and showed no sign of weariness. Many tall men 
heavily cloaked stood beside him, and behind them in the mist loomed a wall 
of stone. Partly ruinous it seemed, but already before the night was passed 
the sound of hurried labour could be heard: beat of hammers, clink of 




trowels, and the creak of wheels. Torches and flares glowed dully here and 
there in the fog. Gandalf was speaking to the men that barred his way, and 
as he listened Pippin became aware that he himself was being discussed. 

'Yea truly, we know you, Mithrandir,' said the leader of the men, 'and 
you know the pass-words of the Seven Gates and are free to go forward. But 
we do not know your companion. What is he? A dwarf out of the mountains 
in 

the North? We wish for no strangers in the land at this time, unless they be 
mighty men of arms in whose faith and help we can trust.' 

'I will vouch for him before the seat of Denethor,' said Gandalf. 'And 
as for valour, that cannot be computed by stature. He has passed through 
more battles and perils than you have, Ingold, though you be twice his 
height; and he comes now from the storming of Isengard, of which we bear 
tidings, and great weariness is on him, or I would wake him. His name is 
Peregrin, a very valiant man.' 

'Man?' said Ingold dubiously; and the others laughed. 

'Man!' cried Pippin, now thoroughly roused. 'Man! Indeed not! I am a 
hobbit and no more valiant than I am a man, save perhaps now and again by 
necessity. Do not let Gandalf deceive you!' 

'Many a doer of great deeds might say no more,' said Ingold. 'But what 
is a hobbit?' 

'A Halfling,' answered Gandalf. 'Nay, not the one that was spoken of,' 
he added seeing the wonder in the men's faces. 'Not he, yet one of his 
kindred.' 

'Yes, and one who journeyed with him,' said Pippin. 'And Boromir of 
your City was with us, and he saved me in the snows of the North, and at the 
last he was slain defending me from many foes.' 

'Peace!' said Gandalf. 'The news of that grief should have been told 
first to the father.' 

'It has been guessed already,' said Ingold; 'for there have been 
strange portents here of late. But pass on now quickly! For the Lord of 
Minas Tirith will be eager to see any that bear the latest tidings of his 
son, be he man or—' 

'Hobbit,' said Pippin. 'Little service can I offer to your lord, but 
what I can do, I would do, remembering Boromir the brave.' 

'Fare you well!' said Ingold; and the men made way for Shadow fax, and 
he passed through a narrow gate in the wall. 'May you bring good counsel to 




Denethor in his need, and to us all, Mithrandir!' Ingold cried. 'But you 
come with tidings of grief and danger, as is your wont, they say.' 

’Because I come seldom but when my help is needed,’ answered Gandalf. 
’And as for counsel, to you I would say that you are over-late in repairing 
the wall of the Pelennor. Courage will now be your best defence against the 
storm that is at hand - that and such hope as I bring. For not all the 
tidings that I bring are evil. But leave your trowels and sharpen your 
swords!’ 

’The work will be finished ere evening,’ said Ingold. ’This is the last 
portion of the wall to be put in defence: the least open to attack, for it 
looks towards our friends of Rohan. Do you know aught of them? Will they 
answer the summons, think you?’ 

'Yes, they will come. But they have fought many battles at your back. 

This road and no road looks towards safety any longer. Be vigilant! But for 
Gandalf Stormcrow you would have seen a host of foes coming out of 
Anurien 

and no Riders of Rohan. And you may yet. Fare you well, and sleep not!’ 

Gandalf passed now into the wide land beyond the Rammas Echor. So the 
men of Gondor called the out wall that they had built with great labour, 
after Ithilien fell under the shadow of their Enemy. For ten leagues or more 
it ran from the mountains' feet and so back again, enclosing in its fence 
the fields of the Pelennor: fair and fertile townlands on the long slopes 
and terraces falling to the deep levels of the Anduin. At its furthest point 
from the Great Gate of the City, north-eastward, the wall was four leagues 
distant, and there from a frowning bank it overlooked the long flats beside 
the river, and men had made it high and strong; for at that point, upon a 
walled causeway, the road came in from the fords and bridges of Osgiliath 
and passed through a guarded gate between embattled towers. At its nearest 
point the wall was little more than one league from the City, and that was 
south-eastward. There Anduin, going in a wide knee about the hills of Emyn 
Arnen in South Ithilien, bent sharply west, and the out- wall rose upon its 
very brink; and beneath it lay the quays and landings of the Harlond for 
craft that came upstream from the southern fiefs. 

The townlands were rich, with wide tilth and many orchards, and 
homesteads there were with oast and garner, fold and byre, and many rills 
rippling through the green from the highlands down to Anduin. Yet the 




herdsmen and husbandmen that dwelt there were not many, and the most part 
of 

the people of Gondor lived in the seven circles of the City, or in the high 
vales of the mountain-borders, in Lossarnach, or further south in fair 
Lebennin with its five swift streams. There dwelt a hardy folk between the 
mountains and the sea. They were reckoned men of Gondor, yet their blood 
was 

mingled, and there were short and swarthy folk among them whose sires came 
more from the forgotten men who housed in the shadow of the hills in the 
Dark Years ere the coming of the kings. But beyond, in the great fief of 
B elf alas, dwelt Prince Imrahil in his castle of Dol Amroth by the sea, and 
he was of high blood, and his folk also, tall men and proud with sea-grey 
eyes. 

Now after Gandalf had ridden for some time the light of day grew in the 
sky, and Pippin roused himself and looked up. To his left lay a sea of mist, 
rising to a bleak shadow in the East; but to his right great mountains 
reared their heads, ranging from the West to a steep and sudden end, as if 
in the making of the land the River had burst through a great barrier, 
carving out a mighty valley to be a land of battle and debate in times to 
come. And there where the White Mountains of Ered Nimrais came to their 
end 

he saw, as Gandalf had promised, the dark mass of Mount Mindolluin, the deep 
purple shadows of its high glens, and its tall face whitening in the rising 
day. And upon its out-thrust knee was the Guarded City, with its seven walls 
of stone so strong and old that it seemed to have been not builded but 
carven by giants out of the bones of the earth. 

Even as Pippin gazed in wonder the walls passed from looming grey to 
white, blushing faintly in the dawn; and suddenly the sun climbed over the 
eastern shadow and sent forth a shaft that smote the face of the City. Then 
Pippin cried aloud, for the Tower of Ecthelion, standing high within the 
topmost walls' shone out against the sky, glimmering like a spike of pearl 
and silver, tall and fair and shapely, and its pinnacle glittered as if it 
were wrought of crystals; and white banners broke and fluttered from the 
battlements in the morning breeze' and high and far he heard a clear ringing 
as of silver trumpets. 

So Gandalf and Peregrin rode to the Great Gate of the Men of Gondor at 
the rising of the sun, and its iron doors rolled back before them. 




'Mithrandir! Mithrandir!’ men cried. 'Now we know that the storm is 
indeed nigh!' 

'It is upon you,' said Gandalf. 'I have ridden on its wings. Let me 
pass! I must come to your Lord Denethor, while his stewardship lasts. 
Whatever betide, you have come to the end of the Gondor that you have 
known. 

Let me pass!' 

Then men fell back before the command of his voice and questioned him 
no further, though they gazed in wonder at the hobbit that sat before him 
and at the horse that bore him. For the people of the City used horses very 
little and they were seldom seen in their streets, save only those ridden by 
the errand -riders of their lord. And they said: 'Surely that is one of the 
great steeds of the King of Rohan? Maybe the Rohirrim will come soon to 
strengthen us.' But Shadowfax walked proudly up the long winding road. 

For the fashion of Minas Tirith was such that it was built on seven 
levels, each delved into the hill, and about each was set a wall, and in 
each wall was a gate. But the gates were not set in a line: the Great Gate 
in the City Wall was at the east point of the circuit, but the next faced 
half south, and the third half north, and so to and fro upwards; so that the 
paved way that climbed towards the Citadel turned first this way and then 
that across the face of the hill. And each time that it passed the line of 
the Great Gate it went through an arched tunnel, piercing a vast pier of 
rock whose huge out-thrust bulk divided in two all the circles of the City 
save the first. For partly in the primeval shaping of the hill, partly by 
the mighty craft and labour of old, there stood up from the rear of the wide 
court behind the Gate a towering bastion of stone, its edge sharp as a 
ship-keel facing east. Up it rose, even to the level of the topmost circle, 
and there was crowned by a battlement; so that those in the Citadel might, 
like mariners in a mountainous ship, look from its peak sheer down upon the 
Gate seven hundred feet below. The entrance to the Citadel also looked 
eastward, but was delved in the heart of the rock; thence a long lamp-lit 
slope ran up to the seventh gate. Thus men reached at last the High Court, 
and the Place of the Fountain before the feet of the White Tower: tall and 
shapely, fifty fathoms from its base to the pinnacle, where the banner of 
the Stewards floated a thousand feet above the plain. 

A strong citadel it was indeed, and not to be taken by a host of 
enemies, if there were any within that could hold weapons; unless some foe 




could come behind and scale the lower skirts of Mindolluin, and so come upon 
the narrow shoulder that joined the Hill of Guard to the mountain mass. But 
that shoulder, which rose to the height of the fifth wall, was hedged with 
great ramparts right up to the precipice that overhung its western end; and 
in that space stood the houses and domed tombs of bygone kings and lords, 
for ever silent between the mountain and the tower. 

Pippin gazed in growing wonder at the great stone city, vaster and more 
splendid than anything that he had dreamed of; greater and stronger than 
Isengard, and far more beautiful. Yet it was in truth falling year by year 
into decay; and already it lacked half the men that could have dwelt at ease 
there. In every street they passed some great house or court over whose 
doors and arched gates were carved many fair letters of strange and ancient 
shapes: names Pippin guessed of great men and kindreds that had once dwelt 
there; and yet now they were silent, and no footsteps rang on their wide 
pavements, nor voice was heard in their halls, nor any face looked out from 
door or empty window. 

At last they came out of shadow to the seventh gate, and the warm sun 
that shone down beyond the river, as Frodo walked in the glades of Ithilien, 
glowed here on the smooth walls and rooted pillars, and the great arch with 
keystone carven in the likeness of a crowned and kingly head. Gandalf 
dismounted, for no horse was allowed in the Citadel, and Shadowfax suffered 
himself to be led away at the soft word of his master. 

The Guards of the gate were robed in black, and their helms were of 
strange shape, high-crowned, with long cheek-guards close-fitting to the 
face, and above the cheek-guards were set the white wings of sea-birds; but 
the helms gleamed with a flame of silver, for they were indeed wrought of 
mithril, heirlooms from the glory of old days. Upon the black surcoats were 
embroidered in white a tree blossoming like snow beneath a silver crown and 
many -pointed stars. This was the livery of the heirs of Elendil, and none 
wore it now in all Gondor, save the Guards of the Citadel before the Court 
of the Fountain where the White Tree once had grown. 

Already it seemed that word of their coming had gone before them: and 
at once they were admitted, silently, and without question. Quickly Gandalf 
strode across the white-paved court. A sweet fountain played there in the 
morning sun, and a sward of bright green lay about it; but in the midst, 
drooping over the pool, stood a dead tree, and the falling drops dripped 
sadly from its barren and broken branches back into the clear water. 




Pippin glanced at it as he hurried after Gandalf. It looked mournful, 
he thought, and he wondered why the dead tree was left in this place where 
everything else was well tended. 

Seven stars and seven stones and one white tree. 

The words that Gandalf had murmured came back into his mind. And then 
he found himself at the doors of the great hall beneath the gleaming tower; 
and behind the wizard he passed the tall silent door-wardens and entered the 
cool echoing shadows of the house of stone. 

They walked down a paved passage, long and empty, and as they went 
Gandalf spoke softly to Pippin. 'Be careful of your words, Master Peregrin! 
This is no time for hobbit pertness. Thjoden is a kindly old man. Denethor 
is of another sort, proud and subtle, a man of far greater lineage and 
power, though he is not called a king. But he will speak most to you, and 
question you much, since you can tell him of his son Boromir. He loved him 
greatly: too much perhaps; and the more so because they were unlike. But 
under cover of this love he will think it easier to learn what he witches 
from you rather than from me. Do not tell him more than you need, and leave 
quiet the matter of Frodo's errand. I will deal with that in due time. And 
say nothing about Aragorn either, unless you must.' 

'Why not? What is wrong with Strider?' Pippin whispered. 'He meant to 
come here, didn't he? And he'll be arriving soon himself anyway.' 

'Maybe, maybe,' said Gandalf. 'Though if he comes, it is likely to be 
in some way that no one expects, not even Denethor. It will be better so. At 
least he should come unheralded by us.' 

Gandalf halted before a tall door of polished metal. 'See, Master 
Pippin, there is no time to instruct you now in the history of Gondor; 
though it might have been better, if you had learned something of it, when 
you were still birds-nesting and playing truant in the woods of the Shire. 

Do as I bid! It is scarcely wise when bringing the news of the death of his 
heir to a mighty lord to speak over much of the coming of one who will, if 
he comes, claim the kingship. Is that enough?' 

'Kingship?' said Pippin amazed. 

'Yes,' said Gandalf. 'If you have walked all these days with closed 
ears and mind asleep, wake up now!' He knocked on the door. 

The door opened, but no one could be seen to open it. Pippin looked 
into a great hall. It was lit by deep windows in the wide aisles at either 
side, beyond the rows of tall pillars that upheld the roof. Monoliths of 




black marble, they rose to great capitals carved in many strange figures of 
beasts and leaves; and far above in shadow the wide vaulting gleamed with 
dull gold, inset with flowing traceries of many colours. No hangings nor 
storied webs, nor any things of woven stuff or of wood, were to be seen in 
that long solemn hall; but between the pillars there stood a silent company 
of tall images graven in cold stone. 

Suddenly Pippin was reminded of the hewn rocks of Argonath, and awe 
fell on him, as he looked down that avenue of kings long dead. At the far 
end upon a dais of many steps was set a high throne under a canopy of marble 
shaped like a crowned helm; behind it was carved upon the wall and set with 
gems an image of a tree in flower. But the throne was empty. At the foot of 
the dais, upon the lowest step which was broad and deep, there was a stone 
chair, black and unadorned, and on it sat an old man gazing at his lap. In 
his hand was a white rod with a golden knob. He did not look up. Solemnly 
they paced the long floor towards him, until they stood three paces from his 
footstool. Then Gandalf spoke. 

'Hail, Lord and Steward of Minas Tirith, Denethor son of Ecthelion! I 
am come with counsel and tidings in this dark hour.' 

Then the old man looked up. Pippin saw his carven face with its proud 
bones and skin like ivory, and the long curved nose between the dark deep 
eyes; and he was reminded not so much of Boromir as of Aragorn. 'Dark 
indeed 

is the hour,' said the old man, 'and at such times you are wont to come, 
Mithrandir. But though all the signs forebode that the doom of Gondor is 
drawing nigh, less now to me is that darkness than my own darkness. It has 
been told to me that you bring with you one who saw my son die. Is this he?' 

'It is,' said Gandalf. 'One of the twain. The other is with Thjoden of 
Rohan and may come hereafter. Halflings they are, as you see, yet this is 
not he of whom the omens spoke.' 

'Yet a Halfling still,' said Denethor grimly, 'and little love do I 
bear the name, since those accursed words came to trouble our counsels and 
drew away my son on the wild errand to his death. My Boromir! Now we 
have 

need of you. Faramir should have gone in his stead.' 

'He would have gone,' said Gandalf. 'Be not unjust in your grief! 
Boromir claimed the errand and would not suffer any other to have it. He was 
a masterful man, and one to take what he desired. I journeyed far with him 




and learned much of his mood. But you speak of his death. You have had news 
of that ere we came?' 

'I have received this,' said Denethor, and laying down his rod he 
lifted from his lap the thing that he had been gazing at. In each hand he 
held up one half of a great horn cloven through the middle: a wild-ox horn 
bound with silver. 

That is the horn that Boromir always wore!' cried Pippin. 

'Verily,' said Denethor. 'And in my turn I bore it, and so did each 
eldest son of our house, far back into the vanished years before the failing 
of the kings, since Vorondil father of Mardil hunted the wild kine of Araw 
in the far fields of Rhyn. I heard it blowing dim upon the northern marches 
thirteen days ago, and the River brought it to me, broken: it will wind no 
more.' He paused and there was a heavy silence. Suddenly he turned his black 
glance upon Pippin. 'What say you to that, Halfling?' 

'Thirteen, thirteen days,' faltered Pippin. 'Yes, I think that would be 
so. Yes, I stood beside him, as he blew the horn. But no help came. Only 
more ores.' 

'So,' said Denethor, looking keenly at Pippin's face. 'You were there? 

Tell me more! Why did no help come? And how did you escape, and yet he 
did 

not, so mighty a man as he was, and only ores to withstand him?' 

Pippin flushed and forgot his fear. 'The mightiest man may be slain by 
one arrow,' he said; 'and Boromir was pierced by many. When last I saw him 
he sank beside a tree and plucked a black -feathered shaft from his side. 

Then I swooned and was made captive. I saw him no more, and know no 
more. 

But I honour his memory, for he was very valiant. He died to save us, my 
kinsman Meriadoc and myself, waylaid in the woods by the soldiery of the 
Dark Lord; and though he fell and failed, my gratitude is none the less.' 

Then Pippin looked the old man in the eye, for pride stirred strangely 
within him, still stung by the scorn and suspicion in that cold voice. 

'Little service, no doubt, will so great a lord of Men think to find in a 
hobbit, a halfling from the northern Shire; yet such as it is, I will offer 
it, in payment of my debt.' Twitching aside his grey cloak, Pippin drew 
forth his small sword and laid it at Denethor's feet. 

A pale smile, like a gleam of cold sun on a winter's evening, passed 
over the old man's face; but he bent his head and held out his hand, laying 




the shards of the horn aside. ’Give me the weapon!' he said. 

Pippin lifted it and presented the hilt to him. 'Whence came this?' 
said Denethor. 'Many, many years lie on it. Surely this is a blade wrought 
by our own kindred in the North in the deep past?' 

'It came out of the mounds that lie on the borders of my country ' said 
Pippin. 'But only evil wights dwell there now, and I will not willingly tell 
more of them.' 

'I see that strange tales are woven about you,' said Denethor, 'and 
once again it is shown that looks may belie the man - or the halfling. I 
accept your service. For you are not daunted by words; and you have 
courteous speech, strange though the sound of it may be to us in the South. 
And we shall have need of all folk of courtesy, be they great or small, in 
the days to come. Swear to me now!' 

'Take the hilt,' said Gandalf, 'and speak after the Lord, if you are 
resolved on this.' 

'I am,' said Pippin. 

The old man laid the sword along his lap, and Pippin put his hand to 
the hilt, and said slowly after Denethor: 

'Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor, and to the Lord and 
Steward of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to 
come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from 
this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death take me, or the 
world end. So say I, Peregrin son of Paladin of the Shire of the Halflings.' 

And this do I hear, Denethor son of Ecthelion, Lord of Gondor, Steward 
of the High King, and I will not forget it, nor fail to reward that which is 
given: fealty with love, valour with honour, oath- breaking with vengeance.' 
Then Pippin received back his sword and put it in its sheath. 

'And now,' said Denethor, 'my first command to you: speak and be not 
silent! Tell me your full tale, and see that you recall all that you can of 
Boromir, my son. Sit now and begin!' As he spoke he struck a small silver 
gong that stood near his footstool, and at once servants came forward. 
Pippin saw then that they had been standing in alcoves on either side of the 
door, unseen as he and Gandalf entered. 

'Bring wine and food and seats for the guests,' said Denethor, 'and see 
that none trouble us for one hour.' 

'It is all that I have to spare, for there is much else to heed,' he 
said to Gandalf. 'Much of more import, it may seem, and yet to me less 




pressing. But maybe we can speak again at the end of the day.’ 

'And earlier, it is to be hoped,' said Gandalf. 'For I have not ridden 
hither from Isengard, one hundred and fifty leagues, with the speed of wind, 
only to bring you one small warrior, however courteous. Is it naught to you 
that Thjoden has fought a great battle and that Isengard is overthrown, and 
that I have broken the staff of Saruman?' 

'It is much to me. But I know already sufficient of these deeds for my 
own counsel against the menace of the East.' He turned his dark eyes on 
Gandalf, and now Pippin saw a likeness between the two, and he felt the 
strain between them, almost as if he saw a line of smouldering fire, drawn 
from eye to eye, that might suddenly burst into flame. 

Denethor looked indeed much more like a great wizard than Gandalf did, 
more kingly, beautiful, and powerful; and older. Yet by a sense other than 
sight Pippin perceived that Gandalf had the greater power and the deeper 
wisdom, and a majesty that was veiled. And he was older, far older. 'How 
much older?' he wondered, and then he thought how odd it was that he had 
never thought about it before. Treebeard had said something about wizards, 
but even then he had not thought of Gandalf as one of them. What was 
Gandalf? In what far time and place did he come into the world, and when 
would he leave it? And then his musings broke off, and he saw that Denethor 
and Gandalf still looked each other in the eye, as if reading the other's 
mind. But it was Denethor who first withdrew his gaze. 

'Yea,' he said; 'for though the Stones be lost, they say, still the 
lords of Gondor have keener sight than lesser men, and many messages come 
to 

them. But sit now!' 

Then men came bearing a chair and a low stool, and one brought a salver 
with a silver flagon and cups, and white cakes. Pippin sat down, but he 
could not take his eyes from the old lord. Was it so, or had he only 
imagined it, that as he spoke of the Stones a sudden gleam of his eye had 
glanced upon Pippin's face? 

'Now tell me your tale, my liege,' said Denethor, half kindly; half 
mockingly. 'For the words of one whom my son so befriended will be 
welcome 
indeed.' 

Pippin never forgot that hour in the great hall under the piercing eye 
of the Lord of Gondor, stabbed ever and anon by his shrewd questions, and 




all the while conscious of Gandalf at his side, watching and listening, and 
(so Pippin felt) holding in check a rising wrath and impatience. When the 
hour was over and Denethor again rang the gong, Pippin felt worn out. 'It 
cannot be more than nine o'clock,' he thought. 'I could now eat three 
breakfasts on end.' 

'Lead the Lord Mithrandir to the housing prepared for him,' said 
Denethor, 'and his companion may lodge with him for the present, if he will. 
But be it known that I have now sworn him to my service, and he shall be 
known as Peregrin son of Paladin and taught the lesser pass-words. Send word 
to the Captains that they shall wait on me here, as soon as may be after the 
third hour has rung. 

'And you, my Lord Mithrandir, shall come too, as and when you will. 
None shall hinder your coming to me at any time, save only in my brief hours 
of sleep. Let your wrath at an old man's folly run off and then return to my 
comfort!' 

'Folly?' said Gandalf. 'Nay, my lord, when you are a dotard you will 
die. You can use even your grief as a cloak. Do you think that I do not 
understand your purpose in questioning for an hour one who knows the least, 
while I sit by?' 

'If you understand it, then be content,' returned Denethor. 'Pride 
would be folly that disdained help and counsel at need; but you deal out 
such gifts according to your own designs. Yet the Lord of Gondor is not to 
be made the tool of other men's purposes, however worthy. And to him there 
is no purpose higher in the world as it now stands than the good of Gondor; 
and the rule of Gondor, my lord, is mine and no other man's, unless the king 
should come again.' 

'Unless the king should come again?' said Gandalf. 'Well, my lord 
Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom still against that event, 
which few now look to see. In that task you shall have all the aid that you 
are pleased to ask for. But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, 
neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that 
are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I 
shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything 
passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower 
again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?' And with 
that he turned and strode from the hall with Pippin running at his side. 

Gandalf did not look at Pippin or speak a word to him as they went. 




Their guide brought them from the doors of the hall, and then led them 
across the Court of the Fountain into a lane between tall buildings of 
stone. After several turns they came to a house close to the wall of the 
citadel upon the north side, not far from the shoulder that linked the hill 
with the mountain. Within, upon the first floor above the street, up a wide 
carven stair, he showed them to a fair room, light and airy, with goodly 
hangings of dull gold sheen unfigured. It was sparely furnished, having but 
a small table, two chairs and a bench; but at either side there were 
curtained alcoves and well -clad beds within with vessels and basins for 
washing. There were three high narrow windows that looked northward over 
the 

great curve of Anduin, still shrouded in mists, towards the Emyn Muil and 
Rauros far away. Pippin had to climb on the bench to look out over the deep 
stone sill. 

Are you angry with me, Gandalf?' he said, as their guide went out and 
closed the door. 'I did the best I could.’ 

'You did indeed!' said Gandalf, laughing suddenly; and he came and 
stood beside Pippin, putting his arm about the hobbit's shoulders and gazing 
out of the window. Pippin glanced in some wonder at the face now close 
beside his own, for the sound of that laugh had been gay and merry. Yet in 
the wizard's face he saw at first only lines of care and sorrow; though as 
he looked more intently he perceived that under all there was a great joy: a 
fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to gush forth. 

'Indeed you did your best,' said the wizard; 'and I hope that it may be 
long before you find yourself in such a tight corner again between two such 
terrible old men. Still the Lord of Gondor learned more from you than you 
may have guessed, Pippin. You could not hide the fact that Boromir did not 
lead the Company from Moria, and that there was one among you of high 
honour 

who was coming to Minas Tirith; and that he had a famous sword. Men think 
much about the stories of old days in Gondor; and Denethor has given long 
thought to the rhyme and to the words Isildur's Bane, since Boromir went 
away. 

'He is not as other men of this time, Pippin, and whatever be his 
descent from father to son, by some chance the blood of Westernesse runs 
nearly true in him; as it does in his other son, Faramir, and yet did not in 
Boromir whom he loved best. He has long sight. He can perceive, if he bends 




his will thither, much of what is passing in the minds of men, even of those 
that dwell far off. It is difficult to deceive him, and dangerous to try. 

'Remember that! For you are now sworn to his service. I do not know 
what put it into your head, or your heart, to do that. But it was well done. 

I did not hinder it, for generous deed should not be checked by cold 
counsel. It touched his heart, as well (may I say it) as pleasing his 
humour. And at least you are free now to move about as you will in Minas 
Tirith - when you are not on duty. For there is another side to it. You are 
at his command; and he will not forget. Be wary still!' 

He fell silent and sighed. 'Well, no need to brood on what tomorrow may 
bring. For one thing, tomorrow will be certain to bring worse than today, 
for many days to come. And there is nothing more that I can do to help it. 

The board is set, and the pieces are moving. One piece that I greatly desire 
to find is Faramir, now the heir of Denethor. I do not think that he is in 
the City; but I have had no time to gather news. I must go. Pippin. I must 
go to this lords' council and learn what I can. But the Enemy has the move, 
and he is about to open his full game. And pawns are likely to see as much 
of it as any, Peregrin son of Paladin, soldier of Gondor. Sharpen your 
blade!' 

Gandalf went to the door, and there he turned. 'I am in haste Pippin,' 
he said. 'Do me a favour when you go out. Even before you rest, if you are 
not too weary. Go and find Shadowfax and see how he is housed. These 
people 

are kindly to beasts, for they are a good and wise folk, but they have less 
skill with horses than some.' 

With that Gandalf went out; and as he did so, there came the note of a 
clear sweet bell ringing in a tower of the citadel. Three strokes it rang, 
like silver in the air, and ceased: the third hour from the rising of the 
sun. 

After a minute Pippin went to the door and down the stair and looked 
about the street. The sun was now shining warm and bright, and the towers 
and tall houses cast long clear-cut shadows westward. High in the blue air 
Mount Mindolluin lifted its white helm and snowy cloak. Armed men went to 
and fro in the ways of the City, as if going at the striking of the hour to 
changes of post and duty. 

'Nine o'clock we'd call it in the Shire,' said Pippin aloud to himself. 

'Just the time for a nice breakfast by the open window in spring sunshine. 




And how I should like breakfast! Do these people ever have it, or is it 
over? And when do they have dinner, and where?' 

Presently he noticed a man, clad in black and white, coming along the 
narrow street from the centre of the citadel towards him. Pippin felt lonely 
and made up his mind to speak as the man passed; but he had no need. The man 
came straight up to him. 

'You are Peregrin the Halfling?' he said. 'I am told that you have been 
sworn to the service of the Lord and of the City. Welcome! He held out his 
hand and Pippin took it. 

'I am named Beregond son of Baranor. I have no duty this morning, and I 
have been sent to you to teach you the pass-words, and to tell you some of 
the many things that no doubt you will wish to know. And for my part, I 
would learn of you also. For never before have we seen a halfling in this 
land and though we have heard rumour of them, little is said of them in any 
tale that we know. Moreover you are a friend of Mithrandir. Do you know him 
well?' 

'Well,' said Pippin. 'I have known of him all my short life, as you 
might say; and lately I have travelled far with him. But there is much to 
read in that book, and I cannot claim to have seen more than a page or two. 

Yet perhaps I know him as well as any but a few. Aragorn was the only one of 
our Company, I think, who really knew him.' 

'Aragorn?' said Beregond. 'Who is he?' 

'Oh,' stammered Pippin, 'he was a man who went about with us. I think 
he is in Rohan now.' 

'You have been in Rohan, I hear. There is much that I would ask you of 
that land also; for we put much of what little hope we have in its people. 

But I am forgetting my errand, which was first to answer what you would ask. 
What would you know, Master Peregrin?' 

'Er well,' said Pippin, 'if I may venture to say so, rather a burning 
question in my mind at present is, well, what about breakfast and all that? 

I mean, what are the meal-times, if you understand me, and where is the 
dining-room, if there is one? And the inns? I looked, but never a one could 
I see as we rode up, though I had been borne up by the hope of a draught of 
ale as soon as we came to the homes of wise and courtly men.' 

Beregond looked at him gravely. 'An old campaigner, I see,' he said. 

'They say that men who go warring afield look ever to the next hope of food 
and of drink; though I am not a travelled man myself. Then you have not yet 




eaten today?' 

'Well, yes, to speak in courtesy, yes,' said Pippin. 'But no more than 
a cup of wine and a white cake or two by the kindness of your lord; but he 
racked me for it with an hour of questions, and that is hungry work.' 

Beregond laughed. 'At the table small men may do the greater deeds, we 
say. But you have broken your fast as well as any man in the Citadel, and 
with greater honour. This is a fortress and a tower of guard and is now in 
posture of war. We rise ere the Sun, and take a morsel in the grey light, 
and go to our duties at the opening hour. But do not despair!' He laughed 
again, seeing the dismay in Pippin's face. 'Those who have had heavy duty 
take somewhat to refresh their strength in the mid-morning. Then there is 
the nuncheon, at noon or after as duties allow; and men gather for the 
daymeal, and such mirth as there still may be, about the hour of sunset. 

'Come! We will walk a little and then go find us some refreshment, and 
eat and drink on the battlement, and survey the fair morning.' 

'One moment!' said Pippin blushing. 'Greed, or hunger by your courtesy, 
put it out of my mind. But Gandalf, Mithrandir as you call him, asked me to 
see to his horse - Shadowfax, a great steed of Rohan, and the apple of the 
king's eye, I am told, though he has given him to Mithrandir for his 
services. I think his new master loves the beast better than he loves many 
men, and if his good will is of any value to this city, you will treat 
Shadowfax with all honour: with greater kindness than you have treated this 
hobbit, if it is possible.' 

'Hobbit?' said Beregond. 

'That is what we call ourselves,' said Pippin. 

'I am glad to learn it,' said Beregond, 'for now I may say that strange 
accents do not mar fair speech, and hobbits are a fair-spoken folk. But 
come! You shall make me acquainted with this good horse. I love beasts, and 
we see them seldom in this stony city; for my people came from the 
mountain-vales, and before that from Ithilien. But fear not! The visit shall 
be short, a mere call of courtesy, and we will go thence to the butteries.' 

Pippin found that Shadowfax had been well housed and tended. For in the 
sixth circle, outside the walls of the citadel, there were some fair stables 
where a few swift horses were kept, hard by the lodgings of the 
errand-riders of the Lord: messengers always ready to go at the urgent 
command of Denethor or his chief captains. But now all the horses and the 
riders were out and away. 




Shadowfax whinnied as Pippin entered the stable and turned his head. 
’Good morning!' said Pippin. ’Gandalf will come as soon as he may. He is 
busy, but he sends greetings, and I am to see that all is well with you; and 
you resting, I hope, after your long labours.' 

Shadowfax tossed his head and stamped. But he allowed Beregond to 
handle his head gently and stroke his great flanks. 

'He looks as if he were spoiling for a race, and not newly come from a 
great journey,' said Beregond. 'How strong and proud he is! Where is his 
harness? It should be rich and fair.' 

'None is rich and fair enough for him,' said Pippin. 'He will have 
none. If he will consent to bear you, bear you he does; and if not, well, no 
bit, bridle, whip, or thong will tame him. Farewell, Shadowfax! Have 
patience. Battle is coming.' 

Shadowfax lifted up his head and neighed, so that the stable shook, and 
they covered their ears. Then they took their leave, seeing that the manger 
was well filled. 

'And now for our manger,' said Beregond, and he led Pippin back to the 
citadel, and so to a door in the north side of the great tower. There they 
went down a long cool stair into a wide alley lit with lamps. There were 
hatches in the walls at the side, and one of these was open. 

'This is the storehouse and buttery of my company of the Guard.' said 
Beregond. 'Greetings, Targon!' he called through the hatch. 'It is early 
yet, but here is a newcomer that the Lord has taken into his service. He has 
ridden long and far with a tight belt, and has had sore labour this morning, 
and he is hungry. Give us what you have!' 

They got there bread, and butter, and cheese and apples: the last of 
the winter store, wrinkled but sound and sweet; and a leather flagon of 
new-drawn ale, and wooden platters and cups. They put all into a wicker 
basket and climbed back into the sun; and Beregond brought Pippin to a place 
at the east end of the great out-thrust battlement where there was an 
embrasure in the walls with a stone seat beneath the sill. From there they 
could look out on the morning over the world. 

They ate and drank; and they talked now of Gondor and its ways and 
customs, now of the Shire and the strange countries that Pippin had seen. 

And ever as they talked Beregond was more amazed, and looked with greater 
wonder at the hobbit, swinging his short legs as he sat on the seat, or 
standing tiptoe upon it to peer over the sill at the lands below. 




'I will not hide from you, Master Peregrin,' said Beregond, 'that to us 
you look almost as one of our children, a lad of nine summers or so; and yet 
you have endured perils and seen marvels that few of our greybeards could 
boast of. I thought it was the whim of our Lord to take him a noble page, 
after the manner of the kings of old, they say. But I see that it is not so, 
and you must pardon my foolishness.' 

'I do,' said Pippin. 'Though you are not far wrong. I am still little 
more than a boy in the reckoning of my own people, and it will be four years 
yet before I "come of age", as we say in the Shire: But do not bother about 
me. Come and look and tell me what I can see.' 

The sun was now climbing, and the mists in the vale below had been 
drawn up. The last of them were floating away, just overhead, as wisps of 
white cloud borne on the stiffening breeze from the East, that was now 
flapping and tugging the flags and white standards of the citadel. Away down 
in the valley-bottom, five leagues or so as the eye leaps, the Great River 
could now be seen grey and glittering, coming out of the north-west, and 
bending in a mighty sweep south and west again, till it was lost to view in 
a haze and shimmer, far beyond which lay the Sea fifty leagues away. 

Pippin could see all the Pelennor laid out before him, dotted into the 
distance with farmsteads and little walls, barns and byres, but nowhere 
could he see any kine or other beasts. Many roads and tracks crossed the 
green fields, and there was much coming and going: wains moving in lines 
towards the Great Gate, and others passing out. Now and again a horseman 
would ride up, and leap from the saddle and hasten into the City. But most 
of the traffic went out along the chief highway, and that turned south, and 
then bending swifter than the River skirted the hills and passed soon from 
sight. It was wide and well -paved, and along its eastern edge ran a broad 
green riding -track, and beyond that a wall. On the ride horsemen galloped to 
and fro, but all the street seemed to be choked with great covered wains 
going south. But soon Pippin saw that all was in fact well-ordered: the 
wains were moving in three lines, one swifter drawn by horses; another 
slower, great waggons with fair housings of many colours, drawn by oxen; and 
along the west rim of the road many smaller carts hauled by trudging men. 

'That is the road to the vales of Tumladen and Lossarnach, and the 
mountain-villages, and then on to Lebennin,' said Beregond. 'There go the 
last of the wains that bear away to refuge the aged the children, and the 
women that must go with them. They must all be gone from the Gate and the 




road clear for a league before noon: that was the order. It is a sad 
necessity.' He sighed. ’Few, maybe, of those now sundered will meet again. 
And there were always too few children in this city; but now there are 
none-save some young lads that will not depart, and may find some task to 
do: my own son is one of them.' 

They fell silent for a while. Pippin gazed anxiously eastward, as if at 
any moment he might see thousands of ores pouring over the fields. 'What can 
I see there?' he asked, pointing down to the middle of the great curve of 
the Anduin. 'Is that another city, or what is it?' 

'It was a city,' said Beregond, 'the chief city of Gondor, of which 
this was only a fortress. For that is the ruin of Osgiliath on either side 
of Anduin, which our enemies took and burned long ago. Yet we won it back in 
the days of the youth of Denethor: not to dwell in, but to hold as an 
outpost, and to rebuild the bridge for the passage of our arms. And then 
came the Fell Riders out of Minas Morgul.' 

'The Black Riders?' said Pippin, opening his eyes, and they were wide 
and dark with an old fear re-awakened. 

'Yes, they were black,' said Beregond, 'and I see that you know 
something of them, though you have not spoken of them in any of your tales.' 

'I know of them,' said Pippin softly, 'but I will not speak of them 
now, so near, so near.' He broke off and lifted his eyes above the River, 
and it seemed to him that all he could see was a vast and threatening 
shadow. Perhaps it was mountains looming on the verge of sight, their jagged 
edges softened by wellnigh twenty leagues of misty air; perhaps it was but a 
cloud-wall, and beyond that again a yet deeper gloom. But even as he looked 
it seemed to his eyes that the gloom was growing and gathering, very slowly, 
slowly rising to smother the regions of the sun. 

'So near to Mordor?' said Beregond quietly. 'Yes, there it lies. We 
seldom name it; but we have dwelt ever in sight of that shadow: sometimes it 
seems fainter and more distant; sometimes nearer and darker. It is growing 
and darkening now; and therefore our fear and disquiet grow too. And the 
Fell Riders, less than a year ago they won back the crossings, and many of 
our best men were slain. Boromir it was that drove the enemy at last back 
from this western shore, and we hold still the near half of Osgiliath. For a 
little while. But we await now a new onslaught there. Maybe the chief 
onslaught of the war that comes.' 

'When?' said Pippin. 'Have you a guess? For I saw the beacons last 




night and the errand-riders; and Gandalf said that it was a sign that war 
had begun. He seemed in a desperate hurry. But now everything seems to have 
slowed up again.' 

'Only because everything is now ready,' said Beregond. 'It is but the 
deep breath before the plunge.' 

'But why were the beacons lit last night?' 

'It is over -late to send for aid when you are already besieged,' 
answered Beregond. 'But I do not know the counsel of the Lord and his 
captains. They have many ways of gathering news. And the Lord Denethor is 
unlike other men: he sees far. Some say that as he sits alone in his high 
chamber in the Tower at night, and bends his thought this way and that, he 
can read somewhat of the future; and that he will at times search even the 
mind of the Enemy, wrestling with him. And so it is that he is old, worn 
before his time. But however that may be, my lord Faramir is abroad, beyond 
the River on some perilous errand, and he may have sent tidings. 

'But if you would know what I think set the beacons ablaze, it was the 
news that came yestereve out of Lebennin. There is a great fleet drawing 
near to the mouths of Anduin, manned by the corsairs of Umbar in the South. 
They have long ceased to fear the might of Gondor, and they have allied them 
with the Enemy, and now make a heavy stroke in his cause. For this attack 
will draw off much of the help that we looked to have from Lebennin and 
Belfalas, where folk are hardy and numerous. All the more do our thoughts go 
north to Rohan; and the more glad are we for these tidings of victory that 
you bring. 

'And yet' - he paused and stood up, and looked round, north, east, and 
south - 'the doings at Isengard should warn us that we are caught now in a 
great net and strategy. This is no longer a bickering at the fords, raiding 
from Ithilien and from Anurien, ambushing and pillaging. This is a great war 
long -planned, and we are but one piece in it, whatever pride may say. Things 
move in the far East beyond the Inland Sea, it is reported; and north in 
Mirkwood and beyond; and south in Harad. And now all realms shall be put to 
the test, to stand, or fall - under the Shadow. 

'Yet, Master Peregrin, we have this honour: ever we bear the brunt of 
the chief hatred of the Dark Lord, for that hatred comes down out of the 
depths of time and over the deeps of the Sea. Here will the hammer-stroke 
fall hardest. And for that reason Mithrandir came hither in such haste. For 
if we fall, who shall stand? And, Master Peregrin, do you see any hope that 




we shall stand?' 

Pippin did not answer. He looked at the great walls, and the towers and 
brave banners, and the sun in the high sky, and then at the gathering gloom 
in the East; and he thought of the long fingers of that Shadow: of the ores 
in the woods and the mountains, the treason of Isengard, the birds of evil 
eye, and the Black Riders even in the lanes of the Shire - and of the winged 
terror, the Nazgyl. He shuddered, and hope seemed to wither. And even at 
that moment the sun for a second faltered and was obscured, as though a dark 
wing had passed across it. Almost beyond hearing he thought he caught, high 
and far up in the heavens, a cry: faint, but heart-quelling, cruel and cold. 

He blanched and cowered against the wall. 

’What was that?' asked Beregond. 'You also felt something?' 

'Yes,' muttered Pippin. 'It is the sign of our fall, and the shadow of 
doom, a Fell Rider of the air.' 

'Yes, the shadow of doom,' said Beregond. 'I fear that Minas Tirith 
shall fall. Night comes. The very warmth of my blood seems stolen away.' 

For a time they sat together with bowed heads and did not speak. Then 
suddenly Pippin looked up and saw that the sun was still shining and the 
banners still streaming in the breeze. He shook himself. 'It is passed,' he 
said. 'No, my heart will not yet despair. Gandalf fell and has returned and 
is with us. We may stand, if only on one leg, or at least be left still upon 
our knees.' 

'Rightly said!' cried Beregond, rising and striding to and fro. 'Nay, 
though all things must come utterly to an end in time, Gondor shall not 
perish yet. Not though the walls be taken by a reckless foe that will build 
a hill of carrion before them. There are still other fastnesses, and secret 
ways of escape into the mountains. Hope and memory shall live still in some 
hidden valley where the grass is green.' 

'All the same, I wish it was over for good or ill.' said Pippin. 'I am 
no warrior at all and dislike any thought of battle; but waiting on the edge 
of one that I can't escape is worst of all. What a long day it seems 
already ! I should be happier, if we were not obliged to stand and watch, 
making no move, striking nowhere first. No stroke would have been struck in 
Rohan, I think, but for Gandalf.' 

'Ah, there you lay your finger on the sore that many feel!' said 
Beregond. 'But things may change when Faramir returns. He is bold, more bold 
than many deem; for in these days men are slow to believe that a captain can 




be wise and learned in the scrolls of lore and song, as he is, and yet a man 
of hardihood and swift judgement in the field. But such is Faramir. Less 
reckless and eager than Boromir, but not less resolute. Yet what indeed can 
he do? We cannot assault the mountains of - of yonder realm. Our reach is 
shortened, and we cannot strike till some foe comes within it. Then our hand 
must be heavy!' He smote the hilt of his sword. 

Pippin looked at him: tall and proud and noble, as all the men that he 
had yet seen in that land; and with a glitter in his eye as he thought of 
the battle. 'Alas! my own hand feels as light as a feather,' he thought, but 
he said nothing. 'A pawn did Gandalf say? Perhaps but on the wrong 
chessboard.' 

So they talked until the sun reached its height, and suddenly the 
noon-bells were rung, and there was a stir in the citadel; for all save the 
watchmen were going to their meal. 

'Will you come with me?' said Beregond. 'You may join my mess for this 
day. I do not know to what company you will be assigned; or the Lord may 
hold you at his own command. But you will be welcome. And it will be well to 
meet as many men as you may, while there is yet time.' 

'I shall be glad to come,' said Pippin. 'I am lonely, to tell you the 
truth. I left my best friend behind in Rohan, and I have had no one to talk 
to or jest with. Perhaps I could really join your company? Are you the 
captain? If so, you could take me on, or speak for me?' 

'Nay, nay,' Beregond laughed, 'I am no captain. Neither office nor rank 
nor lordship have I, being but a plain man of arms of the Third Company of 
the Citadel. Yet, Master Peregrin, to be only a man of arms of the Guard of 
the Tower of Gondor is held worthy in the City, and such men have honour in 
the land.' 

'Then it is far beyond me,' said Pippin. 'Take me back to our room, and 
if Gandalf is not there, I will go where you like - as your guest.' 

Gandalf was not in the lodging and had sent no message; so Pippin went 
with Beregond and was made known to the men of the Third Company. And 
it 

seemed that Beregond got as much honour from it as his guest, for Pippin was 
very welcome. There had already been much talk in the citadel about 
Mithrandir's companion and his long closeting with the Lord; and rumour 
declared that a Prince of the Halflings had come out of the North to offer 
allegiance to Gondor and five thousand swords. And some said that when the 




Riders came from Rohan each would bring behind him a halfling warrior, small 
maybe, but doughty. 

Though Pippin had regretfully to destroy this hopeful tale, he could 
not be rid of his new rank, only fitting, men thought, to one befriended by 
Boromir and honoured by the Lord Denethor; and they thanked him for 
coming 

among them, and hung on his words and stories of the outlands, and gave him 
as much food and ale as he could wish. Indeed his only trouble was to be 
’wary' according to the counsel of Gandalf, and not to let his tongue wag 
freely after the manner of a hobbit among friends. 

At length Beregond rose. 'Farewell for this time!' he said. 'I have 
duty now till sundown, as have all the others here, I think. But if you are 
lonely, as you say, maybe you would like a merry guide about the City. My 
son would go with you gladly. A good lad, I may say. If that pleases you, go 
down to the lowest circle and ask for the Old Guesthouse in the Rath 
Celerdain, the Lamp wrights' Street. You will find him there with other lads 
that are remaining in the City. There may be things worth seeing down at the 
Great Gate ere the closing.' 

He went out, and soon after all the others followed. The day was still 
fine, though it was growing hazy, and it was hot for March, even so far 
southwards. Pippin felt sleepy, but the lodging seemed cheerless, and he 
decided to go down and explore the City. He took a few morsels that he had 
saved to Shadowfax, and they were graciously accepted, though the horse 
seemed to have no lack. Then he walked on down many winding ways. 

People stared much as he passed. To his face men were gravely 
courteous, saluting him after the manner of Gondor with bowed head and hands 
upon the breast; but behind him he heard many calls, as those out of doors 
cried to others within to come and see the Prince of the Halflings, the 
companion of Mithrandir. Many used some other tongue than the Common 
Speech, 

but it was not long before he learned at least what was meant by Emil i 
Pheriannath and knew that his title had gone down before him into the City. 

He came at last by arched streets and many fair alleys and pavements to 
the lowest and widest circle, and there he was directed to the Lampwrights' 
Street, a broad way running towards the Great Gate. In it he found the Old 
Guesthouse, a large building of grey weathered stone with two wings running 




back from the street, and between them a narrow greensward, behind which 
was 

the many-windowed house, fronted along its whole width by a pillared porch 
and a flight of steps down on to the grass. Boys were playing among the 
pillars, the only children that Pippin had seen in Minas Tirith, and he 
stopped to look at them. Presently one of them caught sight of him, and with 
a shout he sprang across the grass and came into the street, followed by 
several others. There he stood in front of Pippin, looking him up and down. 

'Greetings!' said the lad. 'Where do you come from? You are a stranger 
in the City.’ 

’I was,’ said Pippin; 'but they say I have become a man of Gondor.' 

'Oh come!' said the lad. 'Then we are all men here. But how old are 
you, and what is your name? I am ten years already, and shall soon be five 
feet. I am taller than you. But then my father is a Guard, one of the 
tallest. What is your father?' 

'Which question shall I answer first?' said Pippin. 'My father farms 
the lands round Whitwell near Tuckborough in the Shire. I am nearly 
twenty-nine, so I pass you there; though I am but four feet, and not likely 
to grow any more, save sideways.' 

'Twenty-nine!' said the lad and whistled. 'Why, you are quite old! As 
old as my uncle Iorlas. Still,' he added hopefully, 'I wager I could stand 
you on your head or lay you on your back.' 

'Maybe you could, if I let you,' said Pippin with a laugh. 'And maybe I 
could do the same to you: we know some wrestling tricks in my little 
country. Where, let me tell you, I am considered uncommonly large and 
strong; and I have never allowed anyone to stand me on my head. So if it 
came to a trial and nothing else would serve, I might have to kill you. For 
when you are older, you will learn that folk are not always what they seem; 
and though you may have taken me for a soft stranger -lad and easy prey, let 
me warn you: I am not, I amahalfling, hard, bold, and wicked!' Pippin 
pulled such a grim face that the boy stepped back a pace, but at once he 
returned with clenched fists and the light of battle in his eye. 

'No!' Pippin laughed. 'Don't believe what strangers say of themselves 
either! I am not a fighter. But it would be politer in any case for the 
challenger to say who he is.' 

The boy drew himself up proudly. 'I am Bergil son of Beregond of the 
Guards,' he said. 




'So I thought,' said Pippin, 'for you look like your father. I know him 
and he sent me to find you.' 

'Then why did you not say so at once?' said Bergil, and suddenly a look 
of dismay came over his face. 'Do not tell me that he has changed his mind, 
and will send me away with the maidens! But no, the last wains have gone.' 

'His message is less bad than that, if not good.' said Pippin. 'He says 
that if you would prefer it to standing me on my head, you might show me 
round the City for a while and cheer my loneliness. I can tell you some 
tales of far countries in return.' 

Bergil clapped his hands, and laughed with relief. 'All is well,' he 
cried. 'Come then! We were soon going to the Gate to look on. We will go 
now.' 

'What is happening there?' 

'The Captains of the Outlands are expected up the South Road ere 
sundown. Come with us and you will see.' 

Bergil proved a good comrade, the best company Pippin had had since he 
parted from Merry, and soon they were laughing and talking gaily as they 
went about the streets, heedless of the many glances that men gave them. 
Before long they found themselves in a throng going towards the Great Gate. 
There Pippin went up much in the esteem of Bergil, for when he spoke his 
name and the pass-word the guard saluted him and let him pass through; and 
what was more, he allowed him to take his companion with him. 

'That is good!' said Bergil. 'We boys are no longer allowed to pass the 
Gate without an elder. Now we shall see better.' 

Beyond the Gate there was a crowd of men along the verge of the road 
and of the great paved space into which all the ways to Minas Tirith ran. 

All eyes were turned southwards, and soon a murmur rose: 'There is dust away 
there! They are coming!' 

Pippin and Bergil edged their way forward to the front of the crowd, 
and waited. Horns sounded at some distance, and the noise of cheering rolled 
towards them like a gathering wind. Then there was a loud trumpet-blast, and 
all about them people were shouting. 

'Forlong! Forlong!' Pippin heard men calling. 'What do they say?' he 
asked. 

'Forlong has come,' Bergil answered; 'old Forlong the Fat, the Lord of 
Lossarnach. That is where my grandsire lives. Hurrah! Here he is. Good old 
Forlong!' 




Leading the line there came walking a big thick -limbed horse, and on it 
sat a man of wide shoulders and huge girth, but old and grey -bearded, yet 
mail-clad and black-helmed and bearing a long heavy spear. Behind him 
marched proudly a dusty line of men, well-armed and bearing great 
battle-axes; grim-faced they were, and shorter and somewhat swarthier than 
any men that Pippin had yet seen in Gondor. 

'Forlong!' men shouted. 'True heart, true friend! Forlong!' But when 
the men of Lossarnach had passed they muttered: ’So few! Two hundreds, 
what 

are they? We hoped for ten times the number. That will be the new tidings of 
the black fleet. They are sparing only a tithe of their strength. Still 
every little is a gain.' 

And so the companies came and were hailed and cheered and passed 
through the Gate, men of the Outlands marching to defend the City of Gondor 
in a dark hour; but always too few, always less than hope looked for or need 
asked. The men of Ringlu Vale behind the son of their lord, Dervorin 
striding on foot: three hundreds. From the uplands of Morthond, the great 
Blackroot Vale, tall Duinhir with his sons, Duilin and Derufin, and five 
hundred bowmen. From the Anfalas, the Langstrand far away, a long line of 
men of many sorts, hunters and herdsmen and men of little villages, scantily 
equipped save for the household of Golasgil their lord. From Lamedon, a few 
grim hillmen without a captain. Fisher-folk of the Ethir, some hundred or 
more spared from the ships. Hirluin the Fair of the Green Hills from Pinnath 
Gelin with three hundreds of gallant green-clad men. And last and proudest, 
Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, kinsman of the Lord, with gilded banners 
bearing his token of the Ship and the Silver Swan, and a company of knights 
in full harness riding grey horses; and behind them seven hundreds of men at 
arms, tall as lords, grey-eyed, dark-haired, singing as they came. 

And that was all, less than three thousands full told. No more would 
come. Their cries and the tramp of their feet passed into the City and died 
away. The onlookers stood silent for a while. Dust hung in the air, for the 
wind had died and the evening was heavy. Already the closing hour was 
drawing nigh, and the red sun had gone behind Mindolluin. Shadow came 
down 

on the City. 

Pippin looked up, and it seemed to him that the sky had grown 
ashen-grey, as if a vast dust and smoke hung above them, and light came 




dully through it. But in the West the dying sun had set all the fume on 
fire, and now Mindolluin stood black against a burning smoulder flecked with 
embers. ’So ends a fair day in wrath!' he said forgetful of the lad at his 
side. 

’So it will, if I have not returned before the sundown-bells,' said 
Bergil. 'Come! There goes the trumpet for the closing of the Gate.' 

Hand in hand they went back into the City, the last to pass the Gate 
before it was shut; and as they reached the Lampwrights' Street all the 
bells in the towers tolled solemnly. Lights sprang in many windows, and from 
the houses and wards of the men at arms along the walls there came the sound 
of song. 

'Farewell for this time,' said Bergil. 'Take my greetings to my 
ifather, and thank him for the company that he sent. Come again soon, I beg. 
Almost I wish now that there was no war, for we might have had some merry 
times. We might have journeyed to Lossarnach, to my grandsire's house; it is 
good to be there in Spring, the woods and fields are full of flowers. But 
maybe we will go thither together yet. They will never overcome our Lord, 
and my father is very valiant. Farewell and return!' 

They parted and Pippin hurried back towards the citadel. It seemed a 
long way, and he grew hot and very hungry; and night closed down swift and 
dark. Not a star pricked the sky. He was late for the daymeal in the mess, 
and Beregond greeted him gladly, and sat him at his side to hear news of his 
son. After the meal Pippin stayed a while, and then took his leave, for a 
strange gloom was on him, and now he desired very much to see Gandalf 
again. 

'Can you find your way?' said Beregond at the door of the small hall, 
on the north side of the citadel, where they had sat. 'It is a black night, 
and all the blacker since orders came that lights are to be dimmed within 
the City, and none are to shine out from the walls. And I can give you news 
of another order: you will be summoned to the Lord Denethor early tomorrow. 
I fear you will not be for the Third Company. Still we may hope to meet 
again. Farewell and sleep in peace!' 

The lodging was dark, save for a little lantern set on the table. 

Gandalf was not there. Gloom settled still more heavily on Pippin. He 
climbed on the bench and tried to peer out of a window, but it was like 
looking into a pool of ink. He got down and closed the shutter and went to 
bed. For a while he lay and listened for sounds of Gandalf s return, and 




then he fell into an uneasy sleep. 

In the night he was wakened by a light, and he saw that Gandalf had 
come and was pacing to and fro in the room beyond the curtain of the alcove. 
There were candles on the table and rolls of parchment. He heard the wizard 
sigh, and mutter: 'When will Faramir return?' 

'Hullo!' said Pippin, poking his head round the curtain. 'I thought you 
had forgotten all about me. I am glad to see you back. It has been a long 
day.' 

'But the night will be too short,' said Gandalf. 'I have come back 
here, for I must have a little peace, alone. You should sleep, in a bed 
while you still may. At the sunrise I shall take you to the Lord Denethor 
again. No, when the summons comes, not at sunrise. The Darkness has begun. 
There will be no dawn.' 




Chapter 2. The Passing of the Grey Company 



Gandalf was gone, and the thudding hoofs of Shadowfax were lost in the 
night, when Merry came back to Aragorn. He had only a light bundle, for he 
had lost his pack at Parth Galen, and all he had was a few useful things he 
had picked up among the wreckage of Isengard. Hasufel was already saddled. 
Legolas and Gimli with their horse stood close by. 

'So four of the Company still remain,' said Aragorn. 'We will ride on 
together. But we shall not go alone, as I thought. The king is now 
determined to set out at once. Since the coming of the winged shadow, he 
desires to return to the hills under cover of night.' 

'And then whither?' said Legolas. 

'I cannot say yet,' Aragorn answered. 'As for the king, he will go to 
the muster that he commanded at Edoras, four nights from now. And there, I 
think, he will hear tidings of war, and the Riders of Rohan will go down to 
Minas Tirith. But for myself, and any that will go with me . . .' 

'I for one!' cried Legolas. 'And Gimli with him!' said the Dwarf. 

'Well, for myself,' said Aragorn, 'it is dark before me. I must go down 
also to Minas Tirith, but I do not yet see the road. An hour long prepared 
approaches.' 

'Don't leave me behind!' said Merry. 'I have not been of much use yet; 
but I don't want to be laid aside, like baggage to be called for when all is 
over. I don't think the Riders will want to be bothered with me now. Though, 
of course, the king did say that I was to sit by him when he came to his 
house and tell him all about the Shire.' 

'Yes,' said Aragorn, 'and your road lies with him, I think, Merry. But 
do not look for mirth at the ending. It will be long, I fear, ere Thjoden 
sits at ease again in Meduseld. Many hopes will wither in this bitter 
Spring.' 

Soon all were ready to depart: twenty-four horses, with Gimli behind 
Legolas, and Merry in front of Aragorn. Presently they were riding swiftly 
through the night. They had not long passed the mounds at the Fords of Isen, 
when a Rider galloped up from the rear of their line. 

'My lord,' he said to the king, 'there are horsemen behind us. As we 
crossed the fords I thought that I heard them. Now we are sure. They are 




overtaking us, riding hard.' 

Thjoden at once called a halt. The Riders turned about and seized their 
spears. Aragorn dismounted and set Merry on the ground, and drawing his 
sword he stood by the king’s stirrup. Jomer and his esquire rode back to the 
rear. Merry felt more like unneeded baggage than ever, and he wondered, if 
there was a fight, what he should do. Supposing the king's small escort was 
trapped and overcome, but he escaped into the darkness - alone in the wild 
fields of Rohan with no idea of where he was in all the endless miles? 'No 
good!' he thought. He drew his sword and tightened his belt. 

The sinking moon was obscured by a great sailing cloud, but suddenly it 
rode out clear again. Then they all heard the sound of hoofs, and at the 
same moment they saw dark shapes coming swiftly on the path from the fords. 
The moonlight glinted here and there on the points of spears. The number of 
the pursuers could not be told, but they seemed no fewer than the king's 
escort, at the least. 

When they were some fifty paces off, Jomer cried in a loud voice: 

'Halt! Halt! Who rides in Rohan?' 

The pursuers brought their steeds to a sudden stand. A silence 
followed: and then in the moonlight, a horseman could be seen dismounting 
and walking slowly forward. His hand showed white as he held it up, palm 
outward, in token of peace; but the king's men gripped their weapons. At ten 
paces the man stopped. He was tall, a dark standing shadow. Then his clear 
voice rang out. 

'Rohan? Rohan did you say? That is a glad word. We seek that land in 
haste from long afar.' 

'You have found it,' said Jomer. 'When you crossed the fords yonder you 
entered it. But it is the realm of Thjoden the King. None ride here save by 
his leave. Who are you? And what is your haste?' 

'Halbarad D®nadan, Ranger of the North I am,' cried the man. 'We seek 
one Aragorn son of Arathorn, and we heard that he was in Rohan.' 

'And you have found him also!' cried Aragorn. Giving his reins to 
Merry, he ran forward and embraced the newcomer. 'Halbarad!' he said. 'Of 
all joys this is the least expected!' 

Merry breathed a sigh of relief. He had thought that this was some last 
trick of Saruman's, to waylay the king while he had only a few men about 
him; but it seemed that there would be no need to die in Thjoden's defence, 
not yet at any rate. He sheathed his sword. 




'All is well,' said Aragorn, turning back. 'Here are some of my own kin 
from the far land where I dwelt. But why they come, and how many they be, 
Halbarad shall tell us.' 

'I have thirty with me,' said Halbarad. 'That is all of our kindred 
that could be gathered in haste; but the brethren Elladan and Elrohir have 
ridden with us, desiring to go to the war. We rode as swiftly as we might 
when your summons came.' 

'But I did not summon you,' said Aragorn, 'save only in wish. My 
thoughts have often turned to you, and seldom more than tonight; yet I have 
sent no word. But come! All such matters must wait. You find us riding in 
haste and danger. Ride with us now, if the king will give his leave.' 

Thjoden was indeed glad of the news. 'It is well!' he said. 'If these 
kinsmen be in any way like to yourself, my lord Aragorn, thirty such knights 
will be a strength that cannot be counted by heads.' 

Then the Riders set out again, and Aragorn for a while rode with the 
D®nedain; and when they had spoken of tidings in the North and in the South, 
Elrohir said to him: 

'I bring word to you from my father: The days are short. If thou art in 
haste, remember the Paths of the Dead.' 

'Always my days have seemed to me too short to achieve my desire,' 
answered Aragorn. 'But great indeed will be my haste ere I take that road.' 

'That will soon be seen,' said Elrohir. 'But let us speak no more of 
these things upon the open road!' 

And Aragorn said to Halbarad: 'What is that that you bear, kinsman?' 

For he saw that instead of a spear he bore a tall staff, as it were a 
standard, but it was close-furled in a black cloth bound about with many 
thongs. 

'It is a gift that I bring you from the Lady of Rivendell,' answered 
Halbarad. 'She wrought it in secret, and long was the making. But she also 
sends word to you: The days now are short. Either our hope cometh, or all 
hopes end. Therefore I send thee what I have made for thee. Fare well, 
Elfstone!' 

And Aragorn said: 'Now I know what you bear. Bear it still for me a 
while!' And he turned and looked away to the North under the great stars, 
and then he fell silent and spoke no more while the night's journey lasted. 

The night was old and the East grey when they rode up at last from 
Deeping-coomb and came back to the Hornburg. There they were to lie and rest 




for a brief while and take counsel. 

Merry slept until he was roused by Legolas and Gimli. The Sun is 
high,' said Legolas. 'All others are up and doing. Come, Master Sluggard, 
and look at this place while you may!' 

'There was a battle here three nights ago,' said Gimli, 'and here 
Legolas and I played a game that I won only by a single ore. Come and see 
how it was! And there are caves, Merry, caves of wonder! Shall we visit 
them, Legolas, do you think?' 

'Nay! There is no time,' said the Elf. 'Do not spoil the wonder with 
haste! I have given you my word to return hither with you, if a day of peace 
and freedom comes again. But it is now near to noon, and at that hour we 
eat, and then set out again, I hear.' 

Merry got up and yawned. His few hours' sleep had not been nearly 
enough; he was tired and rather dismal. He missed Pippin, and felt that he 
was only a burden, while everybody was making plans for speed in a business 
that he did not fully understand. 'Where is Aragorn?' he asked. 

'In a high chamber of the Burg,' said Legolas. 'He has neither rested 
nor slept, I think. He went thither some hours ago, saying that he must take 
thought, and only his kinsman, Halbarad, went with him; but some dark doubt 
or care sits on him.' 

'They are a strange company, these newcomers,' said Gimli. 'Stout men 
and lordly they are, and the Riders of Rohan look almost as boys beside 
them; for they are grim men of face, worn like weathered rocks for the most 
part, even as Aragorn himself; and they are silent.' 

'But even as Aragorn they are courteous, if they break their silence.' 
said Legolas. 'And have you marked the brethren Elladan and Elrohir? Less 
sombre is their gear than the others', and they are fair and gallant as 
Elven-lords; and that is not to be wondered at in the sons of Elrond of 
Rivendell.' 

'Why have they come? Have you heard?' asked Merry. He had now dressed, 
and he flung his grey cloak about his shoulders; and the three passed out 
together towards the ruined gate of the Burg. 

'They answered a summons, as you heard,' said Gimli. 'Word came to 
Rivendell, they say: Aragorn has need of his kindred. Let the D®nedain ride 
to him in Rohan! But whence this message came they are now in doubt. 

Gandalf 

sent it, I would guess.' 




'Nay, Galadriel,' said Legolas. 'Did she not speak through Gandalf of 
the ride of the Grey Company from the North?' 

'Yes, you have it,' said Gimli. 'The Lady of the Wood! She read many 
hearts and desires. Now why did not we wish for some of our own kinsfolk, 
Legolas?' 

Legolas stood before the gate and turned his bright eyes away north and 
east, and his fair face was troubled. 'I do not think that any would come,' 
he answered. 'They have no need to ride to war; war already marches on their 
own lands.' 

For a while the three companions walked together, speaking of this and 
that turn of the battle, and they went down from the broken gate, and passed 
the mounds of the fallen on the greensward beside the road, until they stood 
on Helm's Dike and looked into the Coomb. The Death Down already stood 
there, black and tall and stony, and the great trampling and scoring of the 
grass by the Huorns could be plainly seen. The Dunlendings and many men of 
the garrison of the Burg were at work on the Dike or in the fields and about 
the battered walls behind; yet all seemed strangely quiet: a weary valley 
resting after a great storm. Soon they turned back and went to the midday 
meal in the hall of the Burg. 

The king was already there, and as soon as they entered he called for 
Merry and had a seat set for him at his side. 'It is not as I would have 
it,' said Thjoden; 'for this is little like my fair house in Edoras. And 
your friend is gone, who should also be here. But it may be long ere we sit, 
you and I, at the high table in Meduseld; there will be no time for feasting 
when I return thither. But come now! Eat and drink, and let us speak 
together while we may. And then you shall ride with me.' 

'May I?' said Merry, surprised and delighted. 'That would be splendid!' 

He had never felt more grateful for any kindness in words. 'I am afraid I am 
only in everybody's way,' he stammered; 'but I should like to do anything I 
could, you know.' 

'I doubt it not,' said the king. 'I have had a good hill-pony made 
ready for you. He will bear you as swift as any horse by the roads that we 
shall take. For I will ride from the Burg by mountain paths, not by the 
plain, and so come to Edoras by way of Dunharrow where the Lady Jowyn 
awaits 

me. You shall be my esquire, if you will. Is there gear of war in this 
place, Jomer, that my sword-thain could use?' 




'There are no great weapon-hoards here, lord.' answered Jomer. 'Maybe a 
light helm might be found to fit him; but we have no mail or sword for one 
of his stature.' 

'I have a sword,' said Merry, climbing from his seat, and drawing from 
its black sheath his small bright blade. Filled suddenly with love for this 
old man, he knelt on one knee, and took his hand and kissed it. 'May I lay 
the sword of Meriadoc of the Shire on your lap Thjoden King?' he cried. 
'Receive my service, if you will!' 

'Gladly will I take it,' said the king; and laying his long old hands 
upon the brown hair of the hobbit; he blessed him. 'Rise now, Meriadoc, 
esquire of Rohan of the household of Meduseld!' he said. 'Take your sword 
and bear it unto good fortune!' 

'As a father you shall be to me,' said Merry. 

'For a little while,' said Thjoden. 

They talked then together as they ate, until presently Jomer spoke. 'It 
is near the hour that we set for our going, lord,' he said. 'Shall I bid men 
sound the horns? But where is Aragorn? His place is empty and he has not 
eaten.' 

'We will make ready to ride,' said Thjoden; 'but let word be sent to 
the Lord Aragorn that the hour is nigh.' 

The king with his guard and Merry at his side passed down from the gate 
of the Burg to where the Riders were assembling on the green. Many were 
already mounted. It would be a great company; for the king was leaving only 
a small garrison in the Burg, and all who could be spared were riding to the 
weapontake at Edoras. A thousand spears had indeed already ridden away at 
night; but still there would be some five hundred more to go with the king, 
for the most part men from the fields and dales of Westfold. 

A little apart the Rangers sat, silent, in an ordered company, armed 
with spear and bow and sword. They were clad in cloaks of dark grey, and 
their hoods were cast now over helm and head. Their horses were strong and 
of proud bearing, but rough-haired; and one stood there without a rider, 
Aragorn's own horse that they had brought from the North; Roheryn was his 
name. There was no gleam of stone or gold, nor any fair thing in all their 
gear and harness: nor did their riders bear any badge or token, save only 
that each cloak was pinned upon the left shoulder by a brooch of silver 
shaped like a rayed star. 

The king mounted his horse, Snowmane, and Merry sat beside him on his 




pony: Stybba was his name. Presently Jomer came out from the gate, and with 
him was Aragorn, and Halbarad bearing the great staff close-furled in black, 
and two tall men, neither young nor old So much alike were they, the sons of 
Elrond, that few could tell them apart: dark -haired, grey-eyed, and their 
faces elven-fair, clad alike in bright mail beneath cloaks of silver-grey. 
Behind them walked Legolas and Gimli. But Merry had eyes only for 
Aragorn, 

so startling was the change that he saw in him, as if in one night many 
years had fallen on his head. Grim was his face, grey-hued and weary. 

'I am troubled in mind, lord,' he said, standing by the king's horse. 

'I have heard strange words, and I see new perils far off. I have laboured 
long in thought, and now I fear that I must change my purpose. Tell me, 
Thjoden, you ride now to Dunharrow, how long will it be ere you come there?' 

'It is now a full hour past noon,' said Jomer. 'Before the night of the 
third day from now we should come to the Hold. The Moon will then be one 
night past his full, and the muster that the king commanded will be held the 
day after. More speed we cannot make, if the strength of Rohan is to be 
gathered.' 

Aragorn was silent for a moment. 'Three days,' he murmured, 'and the 
muster of Rohan will only be begun. But I see that it cannot now be 
hastened.' He looked up, and it seemed that he had made some decision; his 
face was less troubled. Then, by our leave, lord, I must take new counsel 
for myself and my kindred. We must ride our own road, and no longer in 
secret. For me the time of stealth has passed. I will ride east by the 
swiftest way, and I will take the Paths of the Dead.' 

'The Paths of the Dead!' said Thjoden, and trembled. 'Why do you speak 
of them?' Jomer turned and gazed at Aragorn, and it seemed to Merry that the 
faces of the Riders that sat within hearing turned pale at the words. 'If 
there be in truth such paths,' said Thjoden, 'their gate is in Dunharrow; 
but no living man may pass it.' 

'Alas! Aragorn my friend!' said Jomer. 'I had hoped that we should ride 
to war together; but if you seek the Paths of the Dead, then our parting is 
come, and it is little likely that we shall ever meet again under the Sun.' 

'That road I will take, nonetheless,' said Aragorn. 'But I say to you, 

Jomer, that in battle we may yet meet again, though all the hosts of Mordor 
should stand between.' 

'You will do as you will, my lord Aragorn,' said Thjoden. 'It is your 




doom, maybe, to tread strange paths that others dare not. This parting 
grieves me, and my strength is lessened by it; but now I must take the 
mountain-roads and delay no longer. Farewell!' 

’Farewell, lord!' said Aragorn. 'Ride unto great renown! Farewell, 

Merry! I leave you in good hands, better than we hoped when we hunted the 
ores to Fangorn. Legolas and Gimli will still hunt with me, I hope; but we 
shall not forget you.' 

'Good-bye!' said Merry. Fie could find no more to say. Fie felt very 
small, and he was puzzled and depressed by all these gloomy words. More than 
ever he missed the unquenchable cheerfulness of Pippin. The Riders were 
ready, and their horses were fidgeting; he wished they would start arid get 
it over. 

Now Thjoden spoke to Jomer, and he lifted up his hand and cried aloud, 
and with that word the Riders set forth. They rode over the Dike and down 
the Coomb, and then, turning swiftly eastwards, they took a path that 
skirted the foothills for a mile or so, until bending south it passed back 
among the hills and disappeared from view. Aragorn rode to the Dike and 
watched till the king's men were far down the Coomb. Then he turned to 
Halbarad. 

'There go three that I love, and the smallest not the least,' he said. 

'He knows not to what end he rides; yet if he knew, he still would go on.' 

'A little people, but of great worth are the Shire-folk,' said 
Halbarad. 'Little do they know of our long labour for the safekeeping of 
their borders, and yet I grudge it not.' 

'And now our fates are woven together,' said Aragorn. 'And yet, alas! 
here we must part. Well, I must eat a little, and then we also must hasten 
away. Come, Legolas and Gimli! I must speak with you as I eat.' 

Together they went back into the Burg; yet for some time Aragorn sat 
silent at the table in the hall, and the others waited for him to speak. 

'Come!' said Legolas at last. 'Speak and be comforted, and shake off the 
shadow! What has happened since we came back to this grim place in the grey 
morning?' 

'A struggle somewhat grimmer for my part than the battle of the 
Hornburg,' answered Aragorn. 'I have looked in the Stone of Orthanc, my 
friends.' 

'You have looked in that accursed stone of wizardry!' exclaimed Gimli 
with fear and astonishment in his face. 'Did you say aught to - him? Even 




Gandalf feared that encounter.' 

'You forget to whom you speak,' said Aragorn sternly, and his eyes 
glinted. 'Did I not openly proclaim my title before the doors ofEdoras? 

What do you fear that I should say to him? Nay, Gimli,' he said in a softer 
voice, and the grimness left his face, and he looked like one who has 
laboured in sleepless pain for many nights. 'Nay, my friends, I and the 
lawful master of the Stone, and I had both the right and the strength to use 
it, or so I judged. The right cannot be doubted. The strength was enough - 
barely.' 

He drew a deep breath. 'It was a bitter struggle, and the weariness is 
slow to pass. I spoke no word to him, and in the end I wrenched the Stone to 
my own will. That alone he will find hard to endure. And he beheld me. Yes, 
Master Gimli, he saw me, but in other guise than you see me here. If that 
will aid him, then I have done ill. But I do not think so. To know that I 
lived and walked the earth was a blow to his heart, I deem; for he knew it 
not till now. The eyes in Orthanc did not see through the armour of Thjoden; 
but Sauron has not forgotten Isildur and the sword of Elendil. Now in the 
very hour of his great designs the heir of Isildur and the Sword are 
revealed; for 1 showed the blade re-forged to him. He is not so mighty yet 
that he is above fear; nay, doubt ever gnaws him.' 

'But he wields great dominion, nonetheless,' said Gimli; 'and now he 
will strike more swiftly.' 

'The hasty stroke goes oft astray,' said Aragorn. 'We must press our 
Enemy, and no longer wait upon him for the move. See my friends, when I had 
mastered the Stone, I learned many things. A grave peril I saw coming 
unlooked-for upon Gondor from the South that will draw off great strength 
from the defence of Minas Tirith. If it is not countered swiftly, I deem 
that the City will be lost ere ten days be gone.' 

'Then lost it must be,' said Gimli. 'For what help is there to send 
thither, and how could it come there in time?' 

'I have no help to send, therefore I must go myself,' said Aragorn. 

'But there is only one way through the mountains that will bring me to the 
coastlands before all is lost. That is the Paths of the Dead.' 

'The Paths of the Dead!' said Gimli. 'It is a fell name; and little to 
the liking to the Men of Rohan, as I saw. Can the living use such a road and 
not perish? And even if you pass that way, what will so few avail to counter 
the strokes of Mordor?' 




’The living have never used that road since the coming of the 
Rohirrim,' said Aragorn, 'for it is closed to them. But in this dark hour 
the heir of Isildur may use it, if he dare. Listen! This is the word that 
the sons of Elrond bring to me from their father in Rivendell, wisest in 
lore: Bid Aragorn remember the words of the seer, and the Paths of the 
Dead' 

'And what may be the words of the seer?' said Legolas. 

"Thus spoke Malbeth the Seer, in the days of Arvedui, last king at 
Fornost,' said Aragorn: 

Over the land there lies a long shadow, 
westward reaching wings of darkness. 

The Tower trembles; to the tombs of kings 
doom approaches. The Dead awaken; 
for the hour is come for the oathbreakers ; 
at the Stone of Erech they shall stand again 
and hear there a horn in the hills ringing. 

Whose shall the horn be? Who shall call them 
from the prey twilight, the forgotten people? 

The heir of him to whom the oath they swore. 

From the North shall he come, need shall drive him: 
he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead. 

'Dark ways doubtless, said Gimli, but no darker than these staves are 
to me.' 

'If you would understand them better, then I bid you come with me,' 
said Aragorn; 'for that way I now shall take. But I do not go gladly; only 
need drives me. Therefore, only of your free will would I have you come, for 
you will find both toil and great fear, and maybe worse.' 

'I will go with you even on the Paths of the Dead, and to whatever, end 
they may lead,' said Gimli. 

'I also will come,' said Legolas, 'for I do not fear the Dead.' 

'I hope that the forgotten people will not have forgotten how to 
fight,' said Gimli; 'for otherwise I see not why we should trouble them.' 

'That we shall know if ever we come to Erech,' said Aragorn. 'But the 
oath that they broke was to fight against Sauron, and they must fight 
therefore, if they are to fulfil it. For at Erech there stands yet a black 
stone that was brought, it was said, from N®menor by Isildur; and it was set 
upon a hill, and upon it the King of the Mountains swore allegiance to him 




in the beginning of the realm of Gondor. But when Sauron returned and grew 
in might again, Isildur summoned the Men of the Mountains to fulfil their 
oath, and they would not: for they had worshipped Sauron in the Dark Years. 

’Then Isildur said to their king: "Thou shalt be the last king. And if 
the West prove mightier than thy Black Master, this curse I lay upon thee 
and thy folk: to rest never until your oath is fulfilled. For this war will 
last through years uncounted, and you shall be summoned once again ere the 
end." And they fled before the wrath of Isildur, and did not dare to go 
forth to war on Sauron's part; and they hid themselves in secret places in 
the mountains and had no dealings with other men, but slowly dwindled in the 
barren hills. And the terror of the Sleepless Dead lies about the Hill of 
Erech and all places where that people lingered. But that way I must go, 
since there are none living to help me.' 

He stood up. ’Come!' he cried, and drew his sword, and it flashed in 
the twilit hall of the Burg. 'To the Stone of Erech! I seek the Paths of the 
Dead. Come with me who will!' 

Legolas and Gimli made no answer, but they rose and followed Aragorn 
from the hall. On the green there waited, still and silent, the hooded 
Rangers. Legolas and Gimli mounted. Aragorn sprang upon Roheryn. 

Then 

Halbarad lifted a great horn, and the blast of it echoed in Helm's Deep; and 
with that they leapt away, riding down the Coomb like thunder, while all the 
men that were left on Dike or Burg stared in amaze. 

And while Thjoden went by slow paths in the hills, the Grey Company 
passed swiftly over the plain, and on the next day in the afternoon they 
came to Edoras; and there they halted only briefly, ere they passed up the 
valley, and so came to Dunharrow as darkness fell. 

The Lady Jowyn greeted them and was glad of their coming; for no 
mightier men had she seen than the D®nedain and the fair sons of Elrond; but 
on Aragorn most of all her eyes rested. And when they sat at supper with 
her, they talked together, and she heard of all that had passed since 
Thjoden rode away, concerning which only hasty tidings had yet reached her; 
and when she heard of the battle in Helm's Deep and the great slaughter of 
their foes, and of the charge of Thjoden and his knights, then her eyes 
shone. 

But at last she said: 'Lords, you are weary and shall now go to your 
beds with such ease as can be contrived in haste. But tomorrow fairer 




housing shall be found for you.' 

But Aragorn said: 'Nay, lady, be not troubled for us! If we may lie 
here tonight and break our fast tomorrow, it will be enough. For I ride on 
an errand most urgent, and with the first light of morning we must go.' 

She smiled on him and said: 'Then it was kindly done, lord, to ride so 
many miles out of your way to bring tidings to Jowyn, and to speak with her 
in her exile.' 

'Indeed no man would count such a journey wasted,' said Aragorn; 'and 
yet, lady, I could not have come hither, if it were not that the road which 
I must take leads me to Dunharrow.' 

And she answered as one that likes not what is said: "Then, lord, you 
are astray; for out of Harrowdale no road runs east or south; and you had 
best return as you came.' 

'Nay, lady,' said he, 'I am not astray; for I walked in this land ere 
you were born to grace it. There is a road out of this valley, and that road 
I shall take. Tomorrow I shall ride by the Paths of the Dead.' 

Then she stared at him as one that is stricken, and her face blanched, 
and for long she spoke no more, while all sat silent. 'But, Aragorn,' she 
said at last, 'is it then your errand to seek death? For that is all that 
you will find on that road. They do not suffer the living to pass.' 

'They may suffer me to pass,' said Aragorn; 'but at the least I will 
adventure it. No other road will serve.' 

'But this is madness,' she said. 'For here are men of renown and 
prowess, whom you should not take into the shadows, but should lead to war, 
where men are needed. I beg you to remain and ride with my brother; for then 
all our hearts will be gladdened, and our hope be the brighter.' 

'It is not madness, lady,' he answered; 'for I go on a path appointed. 

But those who follow me do so of their free will; and if they wish now to 
remain and ride with the Rohirrim, they may do so. But I shall take the 
Paths of the Dead, alone, if needs be.' 

Then they said no more, and they ate in silence; but her eyes were ever 
upon Aragorn, and the others saw that she was in great torment of mind. At 
length they arose, and took their leave of the Lady, and thanked her for her 
care, and went to their rest. 

But as Aragorn came to the booth where he was to lodge with Legolas and 
Gimli, and his companions had gone in. there came the Lady Jowyn after him 
and called to him. He turned and saw her as a glimmer in the night, for she 




was clad in white; but her eyes were on fire. 

'Aragorn,' she said, ’why will you go on this deadly road?' 

’Because I must,' he said. 'Only so can I see any hope of doing my part 
in the war against Sauron. I do not choose paths of peril, Jowyn. Were I to 
go where my heart dwells, far in the North I would now be wandering in the 
fair valley of Rivendell.' 

For a while she was silent, as if pondering what this might mean. Then 
suddenly she laid her hand on his arm. 'You are a stern lord and resolute,' 
she said; 'and thus do men win renown.' She paused. 'Lord.' she said, 'if 
you must go, then let me ride in your following. For I am weary of skulking 
in the hills, and wish to face peril and battle.' 

'Your duty is with your people,' he answered. 

'Too often have I heard of duty,' she cried. 'But am I not of the House 
of Eorl, a shieldmaiden and not a dry-nurse? I have waited on faltering feet 
long enough. Since they falter no longer, it seems, may I not now spend my 
life as I will?' 

'Few may do that with honour,' he answered. 'But as for you, lady: did 
you not accept the charge to govern the people until their lord's return? If 
you had not been chosen, then some marshal or captain would have been set in 
the same place, and he could not ride away from his charge, were he weary of 
it or no.' 

'Shall I always be chosen?' she said bitterly. 'Shall I always be left 
behind when the Riders depart, to mind the house while they win renown, and 
find food and beds when they return?' 

'A time may come soon,' said he, 'when none will return. Then there 
will be need of valour without renown, for none shall remember the deeds 
that are done in the last defence of your homes. Yet the deeds will not be 
less valiant because they are unpraised.' 

And she answered: 'All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and 
your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, 
you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. 
But I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield 
blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.' 

'What do you fear, lady?' he asked. 

'A cage,' she said. 'To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept 
them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.' 

'And yet you counselled me not to adventure on the road that I had 




chosen, because it is perilous?' 

’So may one counsel another,' she said. 'Yet I do not bid you flee from 
peril, but to ride to battle where your sword may win renown and victory. I 
would not see a thing that is high and excellent cast away needlessly.' 

'Nor would I,' he said. 'Therefore I say to you, lady: Stay! For you 
have no errand to the South.' 

'Neither have those others who go with thee. They go only because they 
would not be parted from thee - because they love thee.' Then she turned and 
vanished into the night. 

When the light of day was come into the sky but the sun was not yet 
risen above the high ridges in the East, Aragorn made ready to depart. His 
company was all mounted, and he was about to leap into the saddle, when the 
Lady Jowyn came to bid them farewell. She was clad as a Rider and girt with 
a sword. In her hand she bore a cup, and she set it to her lips and drank a 
little, wishing them good speed; and then she gave the cup to Aragorn, and 
he drank, and he said: 'Farewell, Lady of Rohan! I drink to the fortunes of 
your House, and of you, and of all your people. Say to your brother: beyond 
the shadows we may meet again!' 

Then it seemed to Gimli and Legolas who were nearby that she wept, and 
in one so stern and proud that seemed the more grievous. But she said: 
'Aragorn, wilt thou go?' 

'I will,' he said. 

'Then wilt thou not let me ride with this company, as I have asked?' 

'I will not, lady,' he said. 'For that I could not grant without leave 
of the king and of your brother; and they will not return until tomorrow. 

But I count now every hour, indeed every minute. Farewell!' 

Then she fell on her knees, saying: 'I beg thee!' 

'Nay, lady,' he said, and taking her by the hand he raised her. Then he 
kissed her hand, and sprang into the saddle, and rode away, and did not look 
back; and only those who knew him well and were near to him saw the pain 
that he bore. 

But Jowyn stood still as a figure carven in stone, her hands clenched 
at her sides, and she watched them until they passed into the shadows under 
the black Dwimorberg, the Haunted Mountain, in which was the Gate of the 
Dead. When they were lost to view, she turned, stumbling as one that is 
blind, and went back to her lodging. But none of her folk saw this parting, 
for they hid themselves in fear and would not come forth until the day was 




up, and the reckless strangers were gone. 

And some said: 'They are Elvish wights. Let them go where they belong, 
into the dark places, and never return. The times are evil enough.' 

The light was still grey as they rode, for the sun had not yet climbed 
over the black ridges of the Haunted Mountain before them. A dread fell on 
them, even as they passed between the lines of ancient stones and so came to 
the Dimholt. There under the gloom of black trees that not even Legolas 
could long endure they found a hollow place opening at the mountain's root, 
and right in their path stood a single mighty stone like a finger of doom. 

'My blood runs chill,' said Gimli, but the others were silent, and his 
voice fell dead on the dank fir-needles at his feet. The horses would not 
pass the threatening stone, until the riders dismounted and led them about. 
And so they came at last deep into the glen; and there stood a sheer wall of 
rock, and in the wall the Dark Door gaped before them like the mouth of 
night. Signs and figures were carved above its wide arch too dim to read, 
and fear flowed from it like a grey vapour. 

The company halted, and there was not a heart among them that did not 
quail, unless it were the heart of Legolas of the Elves, for whom the ghosts 
of Men have no terror. 

'This is an evil door,' said Halbarad, 'and my death lies beyond it. I 
will dare to pass it nonetheless; but no horse will enter.' 

'But we must go in, and therefore the horses must go too,' said 
Aragorn. 'Lor if ever we come through this darkness, many leagues lie 
beyond, and every hour that is lost there will bring the triumph of Sauron 
nearer. Lollow me!' 

Then Aragorn led the way, and such was the strength of his will in that 
hour that all the D®nedain and their horses followed him. And indeed the 
love that the horses of the Rangers bore for their riders was so great that 
they were willing to face even the terror of the Door, if their masters' 
hearts were steady as they walked beside them. But Arod, the horse of Rohan, 
refused the way, and he stood sweating and trembling in a fear that was 
grievous to see. Then Legolas laid his hands on his eyes and sang some words 
that went soft in the gloom, until he suffered himself to be led, and 
Legolas passed in. And there stood Gimli the Dwarf left all alone. 

His knees shook, and he was wroth with himself. 'Here is a thing 
unheard of!' he said. 'An Elf will go underground and a Dwarf dare not!' 
With that he plunged in. But it seemed to him that he dragged his feet like 




lead over the threshold; and at once a blindness came upon him, even upon 
Gimli Gluin’s son who had walked unafraid in many deep places of the world. 

Aragorn had brought torches from Dunharrow, and now he went ahead 
bearing one aloft; and Elladan with another went at the rear, and Gimli, 
stumbling behind, strove to overtake him. He could see nothing but the dim 
flame of the torches; but if the company halted, there seemed an endless 
whisper of voices all about him, a murmur of words in no tongue that he had 
ever heard before. 

Nothing assailed the company nor withstood their passage, and yet 
steadily fear grew on the Dwarf as he went on: most of all because he knew 
now that there could be no turning back; all the paths behind were thronged 
by an unseen host that followed in the dark. 

So time unreckoned passed, until Gimli saw a sight that he was ever 
afterwards loth to recall. The road was wide, as far as he could judge, but 
now the company came suddenly into a great empty space, and there were no 
longer any walls upon either side. The dread was so heavy on him that he 
could hardly walk. Away to the left something glittered in the gloom as 
Aragorn's torch drew near. Then Aragorn halted and went to look what it 
might be. 

'Does he feel no fear?' muttered the Dwarf. 'In any other cave Gimli 
Gluin's son would have been the first to run to the gleam of gold. But not 
here! Let it lie!' 

Nonetheless he drew near, and saw Aragorn kneeling, while Elladan held 
aloft both torches. Before him were the bones of a mighty man. He had been 
clad in mail, and still his harness lay there whole; for the cavern's air 
was as dry as dust, and his hauberk was gilded. His belt was of gold and 
garnets, and rich with gold was the helm upon his bony head face downward on 
the floor. He had fallen near the far wall of the cave, as now could be 
seen, and before him stood a stony door closed fast: his finger -bones were 
still clawing at the cracks. A notched and broken sword lay by him, as if he 
had hewn at the rock in his last despair. 

Aragorn did not touch him, but after gazing silently for a while he 
rose and sighed. 'Hither shall the flowers of simbelmynl come never unto 
world's end,' he murmured. 'Nine mounds and seven there are now green with 
grass, and through all the long years he has lain at the door that he could 
not unlock. Whither does it lead? Why would he pass? None shall ever know! 

'For that is not my errand!' he cried, turning back and speaking to the 




whispering darkness behind. 'Keep your hoards and your secrets hidden in the 
Accursed Years! Speed only we ask. Let us pass, and then come! I summon 
you 

to the Stone of Erech!' 

There was no answer, unless it were an utter silence more dreadful than 
the whispers before; and then a chill blast came in which the torches 
flickered and went out, and could not be rekindled. Of the time that 
followed, one hour or many, Gimli remembered little. The others pressed on, 
but he was ever hindmost, pursued by a groping horror that seemed always 
just about to seize him; and a rumour came after him like the shadow-sound 
of many feet. He stumbled on until he was crawling like a beast on the 
ground and felt that he could endure no more: he must either find an ending 
and escape or run back in madness to meet the following fear. 

Suddenly he heard the tinkle of water, a sound hard and clear as a 
stone falling into a dream of dark shadow. Light grew, and lo! the company 
passed through another gateway, high-arched and broad, and a rill ran out 
beside them; and beyond, going steeply down, was a road between sheer 
cliffs, knife-edged against the sky far above. So deep and narrow was that 
chasm that the sky was dark, and in it small stars glinted. Yet as Gimli 
after learned it was still two hours ere sunset of the day on which they had 
set out from Dunharrow; though for all that he could then tell it might have 
been twilight in some later year, or in some other world. 

The Company now mounted again, and Gimli returned to Legolas. They 
rode 

in file, and evening came on and a deep blue dusk; and still fear pursued 
them. Legolas turning to speak to Gimli looked back and the Dwarf saw before 
his face the glitter in the Elf s bright eyes. Behind them rode Elladan, 
last of the Company, but not the last of those that took the downward road. 

The Dead are following,' said Legolas. 'I see shapes of Men and of 
horses, and pale banners like shreds of cloud, and spears like 
winter-thickets on a misty night. The Dead are following.' 

'Yes, the Dead ride behind. They have been summoned,' said Elladan. 

The Company came at last out of the ravine, as suddenly as it they had 
issued from a crack in a wall; and there lay the uplands of a great vale 
before them, and the stream beside them went down with a cold voice over 
many falls. 

'Where in Middle-earth are we?' said Gimli; and Elladan answered: 'We 




have descended from the uprising of the Morthond, the long chill river that 
flows at last to the sea that washes the walls of Dol Amroth. You will not 
need to ask hereafter how comes its name: Blackroot men call it.' 

The Morthond Vale made a great bay that beat up against the sheer 
southern faces of the mountains. Its steep slopes were grass-grown; but all 
was grey in that hour, for the sun had gone, and far below lights twinkled 
in the homes of Men. The vale was rich and many folk dwelt there. 

Then without turning Aragorn cried aloud so that all could hear: 
’Friends, forget your weariness! Ride now, ride! We must come to the Stone 
of Erech ere this day passes, and long still is the way.' So without looking 
back they rode the mountain-fields, until they came to a bridge over the 
growing torrent and found a road that went down into the land. 

Lights went out in house and hamlet as they came, and doors were shut, 
and folk that were afield cried in terror and ran wild like hunted deer. 

Ever there rose the same cry in the gathering night: 'The King of the Dead! 
The King of the Dead is come upon us!' 

Bells were ringing far below, and all men fled before the face of 
Aragorn; but the Grey Company in their haste rode like hunters, until their 
horses were stumbling with weariness. And thus, just ere midnight, and in a 
darkness as black as the caverns in the mountains, they came at last to the 
Hill of Erech. 

Long had the terror of the Dead lain upon that hill and upon the empty 
fields about it. For upon the top stood a black stone, round as a great 
globe, the height of a man, though its half was buried in the ground. 
Unearthly it looked, as though it had fallen from the sky, as some believed; 
but those who remembered still the lore of Westernesse told that it had been 
brought out of the ruin of N®menor and there set by Isildur at his landing. 
None of the people of the valley dared to approach it, nor would they dwell 
near; for they said that it was a try sting -place of the Shadow-men, and 
there they would gather in times of fear, thronging round the Stone and 
whispering. 

To that Stone the Company came and halted in the dead of night. Then 
Elrohir gave to Aragorn a silver horn, and he blew upon it and it seemed to 
those that stood near that they heard a sound of answering horns, as if it 
was an echo in deep caves far away. No other sound they heard, and yet they 
were aware of a great host gathered all about the hill on which they stood; 
and a chill wind like the breath of ghosts came down from the mountains. But 




Aragorn dismounted, and standing by the Stone he cried in a great voice: 

'Oathbreakers, why have ye come?' 

And a voice was heard out of the night that answered him, as if from 
far away: 

’To fulfil our oath and have peace.' 

Then Aragorn said: ’The hour is come at last. Now I go to Pelargir upon 
Anduin, and ye shall come after me. And when all this land is clean of the 
servants of Sauron, I will hold the oath fulfilled, and ye shall have peace 
and depart for ever. For I am Elessar, Isildur's heir of Gondor.’ 

And with that he bade Halbarad unfurl the great standard which he had 
brought; and behold! it was black, and if there was any device upon it, it 
was hidden in the darkness. Then there was silence, and not a whisper nor a 
sigh was heard again all the long night. The Company camped beside the 
Stone, but they slept little, because of the dread of the Shadows that 
hedged them round. 

But when the dawn came, cold and pale, Aragorn rose at once, and he led 
the Company forth upon the journey of greatest haste and weariness that any 
among them had known, save he alone, and only his will held them to go on. 
No other mortal Men could have endured it, none but the D®nedain of the 
North, and with them Gimli the Dwarf and Legolas of the Elves. 

They passed Tarlang’s Neck and came into Lamedon; and the Shadow 
Host 

pressed behind and fear went on before them, until they came to Calembel 
upon Ciril, and the sun went down like blood behind Pinnath Gelin away in 
the West behind them. The township and the fords of Ciril they found 
deserted, for many men had gone away to war, and all that were left fled to 
the hills at the rumour of the coming of the King of the Dead. But the next 
day there came no dawn, and the Grey Company passed on into the darkness 
of 

the Storm of Mordor and were lost to mortal sight; but the Dead followed 
them. 




Chapter 3 . The Muster of Rohan 



Now all roads were running together to the East to meet the coming of 
war and the onset of the Shadow. And even as Pippin stood at the Great Gate 
of the City and saw the Prince of Dol Amroth ride in with his banners, the 
King of Rohan came down out of the hills. 

Day was waning. In the last rays of the sun the Riders cast long 
pointed shadows that went on before them. Darkness had already crept beneath 
the murmuring fir-woods that clothed the steep mountain -sides. The king rode 
now slowly at the end of the day. Presently the path turned round a huge 
bare shoulder of rock and plunged into the gloom of soft -sighing trees. 
Down, down they went in a long winding file. When at last they came to the 
bottom of the gorge they found that evening had fallen in the deep places. 

The sun was gone. Twilight lay upon the waterfalls. 

All day far below them a leaping stream had run down from the high pass 
behind, cleaving its narrow way between pine-clad walls; and now through a 
stony gate it flowed out and passed into a wider vale. The Riders followed 
it, and suddenly Harrowdale lay before them, loud with the noise of waters 
in the evening. There the white Snowbourn, joined by the lesser stream, went 
rushing, fuming on the stones, down to Edoras and the green hills and the 
plains. Away to the right at the head of the great dale the mighty Starkhorn 
loomed up above its vast buttresses swathed in cloud; but its jagged peak, 
clothed in everlasting snow, gleamed far above the world, blue-shadowed upon 
the East, red-stained by the sunset in the West. 

Merry looked out in wonder upon this strange country, of which he had 
heard many tales upon their long road. It was a skyless world, in which his 
eye; through dim gulfs of shadowy air, saw only ever-mounting slopes, great 
walls of stone behind great walls, and frowning precipices wreathed with 
mist. He sat for a moment half dreaming, listening to the noise of water, 
the whisper of dark trees, the crack of stone, and the vast waiting silence 
that brooded behind all sound. He loved mountains, or he had loved the 
thought of them marching on the edge of stories brought from far away; but 
now he was borne down by the insupportable weight of Middle-earth. He 
longed 

to shut out the immensity in a quiet room by a fire. 

He was very tired, for though they had ridden slowly, they had ridden 




with very little rest. Hour after hour for nearly three weary days he had 
jogged up and down, over passes, and through long dales, and across many 
streams. Sometimes where the way was broader he had ridden at the king’s 
side, not noticing that many of the Riders smiled to see the two together: 
the hobbit on his little shaggy grey pony, and the Lord of Rohan on his 
great white horse. Then he had talked to Thjoden, telling him about his home 
and the doings of the Shire-folk, or listening in turn to tales of the Mark 
and its mighty men of old. But most of the time, especially on this last 
day, Merry had ridden by himself just behind the king, saying nothing, and 
trying to understand the slow sonorous speech of Rohan that he heard the men 
behind him using. It was a language in which there seemed to be many words 
that he knew, though spoken more richly and strongly than in the Shire, yet 
he could not piece the words together. At times some Rider would lift up his 
clear voice in stirring song, and Merry felt his heart leap, though he did 
not know what it was about. 

All the same he had been lonely, and never more so than now at the 
day’s end. He wondered where in all this strange world Pippin had got to; 
and what would become of Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli. Then suddenly 
like a 

cold touch on his heart he thought of Frodo and Sam. 'I am forgetting them!' 
he said to himself reproachfully. 'And yet they are more important than all 
the rest of us. And I came to help them; but now they must be hundreds of 
miles away, if they are still alive.' He shivered. 

'Harrowdale at last!' said Jomer. 'Our journey is almost at an end.' 

They halted. The paths out of the narrow gorge fell steeply. Only a glimpse, 
as through a tall window, could be seen of the great valley in the gloaming 
below. A single small light could be seen twinkling by the river. 

'This journey is over, maybe,' said Thjoden, 'but I have far yet to go. 

Last night the moon was full, and in the morning I shall ride to Edoras to 
the gathering of the Mark.' 

'But if you would take my counsel,' said Jomer in a low voice, 'you 
would then return hither, until the war is over, lost or won.' 

Thjoden smiled. 'Nay, my son, for so I will call you, speak not the 
soft words of Wormtongue in my old ears!' He drew himself up and looked 
back 

at the long line of his men fading into the dusk behind. 'Long years in the 
space of days it seems since I rode west; but never will I lean on a staff 




again. If the war is lost, what good will be my hiding in the hills? And if 
it is won, what grief will it be, even if I fall, spending my last strength? 

But we will leave this now. Tonight I will lie in the Hold of Dunharrow. One 
evening of peace at least is left us. Let us ride on!' 

In the deepening dusk they came down into the valley. Here the 
Snowbourn flowed near to the western walls of the dale, and soon the path 
led them to a ford where the shallow waters murmured loudly on the stones. 
The ford was guarded. As the king approached many men sprang up out of the 
shadow of the rocks; and when they saw the king they cried with glad voices: 
'Thjoden King! Thjoden King! The King of the Mark returns!' 

Then one blew a long call on a horn. It echoed in the valley. Other 
horns answered it, and lights shone out across the river. 

And suddenly there rose a great chorus of trumpets from high above, 
sounding from some hollow place, as it seemed, that gathered their notes 
into one voice and sent it rolling and beating on the walls of stone. 

So the King of the Mark came back victorious out of the West to 
Dunharrow beneath the feet of the White Mountains. There he found the 
remaining strength of his people already assembled; for as soon as his 
coming was known captains rode to meet him at the ford, bearing messages 
from Gandalf. D®nhere, chieftain of the folk of Harrowdale, was at their 
head. 

'At dawn three days ago, lord,' he said. 'Shadowfax came like a wind 
out of the West to Edoras, and Gandalf brought tidings of your victory to 
gladden our hearts. But he brought also word from you to hasten the 
gathering of the Riders. And then came the winged Shadow.' 

'The winged Shadow?' said Thjoden. 'We saw it also, but that was in the 
dead of night before Gandalf left us.' 

'Maybe, lord,' said D®nhere. 'Yet the same, or another like to it, a 
flying darkness in the shape of a monstrous bird, passed over Edoras that 
morning, and all men were shaken with fear. For it stooped upon Meduseld, 
and as it came low, almost to the gable, there came a cry that stopped our 
hearts. Then it was that Gandalf counselled us not to assemble in the 
fields, but to meet you here in the valley under the mountains. And he bade 
us to kindle no more lights or fires than barest need asked. So it has been 
done. Gandalf spoke with great authority. We trust that it is as you would 
wish. Naught has been seen in Harrowdale of these evil things.' 

'It is well,' said Thjoden. 'I will ride now to the Hold, and there 




before I go to rest I will meet the marshals and captains. Let them come to 
me as soon as may be!' 

The road now led eastward straight across the valley, which was at that 
point little more than half a mile in width. Flats and meads of rough grass, 
grey now in the falling night, lay all about, but in front on the far side 
of the dale Merry saw a frowning wall, a last outlier of the great roots of 
the Starkhorn, cloven by the river in ages past. 

On all the level spaces there was great concourse of men. Some thronged 
to the roadside, hailing the king and the riders from the West with glad 
cries; but stretching away into the distance behind there were ordered rows 
of tents and booths, and lines of picketed horses, and great store of arms, 
and piled spears bristling like thickets of new-planted trees. Now all the 
great assembly was falling into shadow, and yet, though the night-chill blew 
cold from the heights no lanterns glowed, no fires were lit. Watchmen 
heavily cloaked paced to and fro. 

Merry wondered how many Riders there were. He could not guess their 
number in the gathering gloom, but it looked to him like a great army, many 
thousands strong. While he was peering from side to side the king’s party 
came up under the looming cliff on the eastern side of the valley; and there 
suddenly the path began to climb, and Merry looked up in amazement. He 
was 

on a road the like of which he had never seen before, a great work of men’s 
hands in years beyond the reach of song. Upwards it wound, coiling like a 
snake, boring its way across the sheer slope of rock. Steep as a stair, it 
looped backwards and forwards as it climbed. Up it horses could walk, and 
wains could be slowly hauled; but no enemy could come that way, except out 
of the air, if it was defended from above. At each turn of the road there 
were great standing stones that had been carved in the likeness of men, huge 
and clumsy-limbed, squatting cross-legged with their stumpy arms folded on 
fat bellies. Some in the wearing of the years had lost all features save the 
dark holes of their eyes that still stared sadly at the passers-by. The 
Riders hardly glanced at them. The P®kel-men they called them, and heeded 
them little: no power or terror was left in them; but Merry gazed at them 
with wonder and a feeling almost of pity, as they loomed up mournfully in 
the dusk. 

After a while he looked back and found that he had already climbed some 
hundreds of feet above the valley, but still far below he could dimly see a 




winding line of Riders crossing the ford and filing along the road towards 
the camp prepared for them. Only the king and his guard were going up into 
the Hold. 

At last the king’s company came to a sharp brink, and the climbing road 
passed into a cutting between walls of rock, and so went up a short slope 
and out on to a wide upland. The Firienfeld men called it, a green 
mountain-field of grass and heath, high above the deep -delved courses of the 
Snowbourn, laid upon the lap of the great mountains behind: the Starkhorn 
southwards, and northwards the saw-toothed mass of Irensaga, between which 
there faced the riders, the grim black wall of the Dwimorberg, the Haunted 
Mountain rising out of steep slopes of sombre pines. Dividing the upland 
into two there marched a double line of unshaped standing stones that 
dwindled into the dusk and vanished in the trees. Those who dared to follow 
that road came soon to the black Dimholt under Dwimorberg, and the menace 
of 

the pillar of stone, and the yawning shadow of the forbidden door. 

Such was the dark Dunharrow, the work of long -forgotten men. Their name 
was lost and no song or legend remembered it. For what purpose they had 
made 

this place, as a town or secret temple or a tomb of kings, none could say. 

Here they laboured in the Dark Years, before ever a ship came to the western 
shores, or Gondor of the D®nedain was built; and now they had vanished, and 
only the old P®kel-men were left, still sitting at the turnings of the road. 

Merry stared at the lines of marching stones: they were worn and black; 
some were leaning, some were fallen, some cracked or broken; they looked 
like rows of old and hungry teeth. He wondered what they could be, and he 
hoped that the king was not going to follow them into the darkness beyond. 
Then he saw that there were clusters of tents and booths on either side of 
the stony way; but these were not set near the trees, and seemed rather to 
huddle away from them towards the brink of the cliff. The greater number 
were on the right, where the Firienfeld was wider; and on the left there was 
a smaller camp, in the midst of which stood a tall pavilion. From this side 
a rider now came out to meet them, and they turned from the road. 

As they drew near Merry saw that the rider was a woman with long 
braided hair gleaming in the twilight, yet she wore a helm and was clad to 
the waist like a warrior and girded with a sword. 

'Hail, Lord of the Mark!' she cried. ’My heart is glad at your 




returning.' 

'And you, Jowyn,' said Thjoden, 'is all well with you?' 

'All is well,' she answered; yet it seemed to Merry that her voice 
belied her, and he would have thought that she had been weeping, if that 
could be believed of one so stern of face. 'All is well. It was a weary road 
for the people to take, torn suddenly from their homes. There were hard 
words, for it is long since war has driven us from the green fields; but 
there have been no evil deeds. All is now ordered, as you see. And your 
lodging is prepared for you; for I have had full tidings of you and knew the 
hour of your coming.' 

'So Aragorn has come then,' said Jomer. 'Is he still here?' 

'No, he is gone,' said Jowyn turning away and looking at the mountains 
dark against the East and South. 

'Whither did he go?' asked Jomer. 

'I do not know,' she answered. 'He came at night, and rode away 
yestermorn, ere the Sun had climbed over the mountain-tops. He is gone.' 

'You are grieved, daughter,' said Thjoden. 'What has happened? Tell me, 
did he speak of that road?' He pointed away along the darkening lines of 
stones towards the Dwimorberg. 'Of the Paths of the Dead?' 

'Yes, lord,' said Jowyn. 'And he has passed into the shadows from which 
none have returned. I could not dissuade him. He is gone.' 

'Then our paths are sundered,' said Jomer. 'He is lost. We must ride 
without him, and our hope dwindles.' 

Slowly they passed through the short heath and upland grass, speaking 
no more, until they came to the king's pavilion. There Merry found that 
everything was made ready, and that he himself was not forgotten. A little 
tent had been pitched for him beside the king's lodging; and there he sat 
alone, while men passed to and fro, going in to the king and taking counsel 
with him. Night came on, and the half-seen heads of the mountains westward 
were crowned with stars, but the East was dark and blank. The marching 
stones faded slowly from sight, but still beyond them, blacker than the 
gloom, brooded the vast crouching shadow of the Dwimorberg. 

'The Paths of the Dead,' he muttered to himself. 'The Paths of the 
Dead? What does all this mean? They have all left me now. They have all gone 
to some doom: Gandalf and Pippin to war in the East; and Sam and Frodo to 
Mordor; and Strider and Legolas and Gimli to the Paths of the Dead. But my 
turn will come soon enough, I suppose. I wonder what they are all talking 




about, and what the king means to do. For I must go where he goes now.’ 

In the midst of these gloomy thoughts he suddenly remembered that he 
was very hungry, and he got up to go and see if anyone else in this strange 
camp felt the same. But at that very moment a trumpet sounded, and a man 
came summoning him, the king's esquire, to wait at the king's board. 

In the inner part of the pavilion was a small space, curtained off with 
broidered hangings, and strewn with skins: and there at a small table sat 
Thjoden with Jomer and Jowyn, and D®nhere, lord of Harrowdale. Merry 
stood 

beside the king's stool and waited on him till presently the old man, coming 
out of deep thought, turned to him and smiled. 

'Come, Master Meriadoc!' he said. 'You shall not stand. You shall sit 
beside me, as long as I remain in my own lands, and lighten my heart with 
tales.' 

Room was made for the hobbit at the king's left hand, but no one called 
for any tale. There was indeed little speech, and they ate and drank for the 
most part in silence, until at last, plucking up courage, Merry asked the 
question that was tormenting him. 

'Twice now, lord, I have heard of the Paths of the Dead,' he said. 

'What are they? And where has Strider, I mean the Lord Aragorn where has he 
gone?' 

The king sighed, but no one answered, until at last Jomer spoke. 'We do 
not know, and our hearts are heavy,' he said. 'But as for the Paths of the 
Dead, you have yourself walked on their first steps. Nay. I speak no words 
of ill omen! The road that we have climbed is the approach to the Door, 
yonder in the Dimholt. But what lies beyond no man knows.' 

'No man knows,' said Thjoden: 'yet ancient legend, now seldom spoken, 
has somewhat to report. If these old tales speak true that have come down 
from father to son in the House of Eorl, then the Door under Dwimorberg 
leads to a secret way that goes beneath the mountain to some forgotten end. 
But none have ever ventured in to search its secrets, since Baldor, son of 
Brego, passed the Door and was never seen among men again. A rash vow 
he 

spoke, as he drained the horn at that feast which Brego made to hallow 
new-built Meduseld, and he came never to the high seat of which he was the 
heir. 

'Folk say that Dead Men out of the Dark Years guard the way and will 




suffer no living man to come to their hidden halls; but at whiles they may 
themselves be seen passing out of the door like shadows and down the stony 
road. Then the people of Harrowdale shut fast their doors and shroud their 
windows and are afraid. But the Dead come seldom forth and only at times of 
great unquiet and coming death.' 

'Yet it is said in Harrowdale,' said Jowyn in a low voice, 'that in the 
moonless nights but little while ago a great host in strange array passed 
by. Whence they came none knew, but they went up the stony road and 
vanished 

into the hill, as if they went to keep a tryst.' 

'Then why has Aragorn gone that way?' asked Merry. 'Don't you know 
anything that would explain it?' 

'Unless he has spoken words to you as his friend that we have not 
heard,' said Jomer, 'none now in the land of the living can tell his 
purpose.' 

'Greatly changed he seemed to me since I saw him first in the king's 
house,' said Jowyn: 'grimmer, older. Fey I thought him, and like one whom 
the Dead call.' 

'Maybe he was called,' said Thjoden; 'and my heart tells me that I 
shall not see him again. Yet he is a kingly man of high destiny. And take 
comfort in this, daughter, since comfort you seem to need in your grief for 
this guest. It is said that when the Eorlingas came out of the North and 
passed at length up the Snowbourn, seeking strong places of refuge in time 
of need, Brego and his son Baldor climbed the Stair of the Hold and so came 
before the Door. On the threshold sat an old man, aged beyond guess of 
years; tall and kingly he had been, but now he was withered as an old stone. 
Indeed for stone they took him, for he moved not, and he said no word, until 
they sought to pass him by and enter. And then a voice came out of him, as 
it were out of the ground, and to their amaze it spoke in the western 
tongue: The way is shut. 

'Then they halted and looked at him and saw that he lived still; but he 
did not look at them. The way is shut, his voice said again It was made by 
those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it, until the time comes. The way is 
shut. 

'And when will that time be? said Baldor. But no answer did he ever 
get. For the old man died in that hour and fell upon his face; and no other 
tidings of the ancient dwellers in the mountains have our folk ever learned. 




Yet maybe at last the time foretold has come, and Aragorn may pass.' 

'But how shall a man discover whether that time be come or no, save by 
daring the Door?' said Jomer. 'And that way I would not go though all the 
hosts of Mordor stood before me, and I were alone and had no other refuge. 
Alas that a fey mood should fall on a man so greathearted in this hour of 
need! Are there not evil things enough abroad without seeking them under the 
earth? War is at hand.' 

He paused, for at that moment there was a noise outside, a man's voice 
crying the name of Thjoden, and the challenge of the guard. 

Presently the captain of the Guard thrust aside the curtain. 'A man is 
here, lord,' he said, 'an errand-rider of Gondor. He wishes to come before 
you at once.' 

'Let him come!' said Thjoden. 

A tall man entered, and Merry choked back a cry; for a moment it seemed 
to him that Boromir was alive again and had returned. Then he saw that it 
was not so; the man was a stranger, though as like to Boromir as if he were 
one of his kin, tall and grey-eyed and proud. He was clad as a rider with a 
cloak of dark green over a coat of fine mail; on the front of his helm was 
wrought a small silver star. In his hand he bore a single arrow, 
black-feathered and barbed with steel, but the point was painted red. 

He sank on one knee and presented the arrow to Thjoden. 'Hail Lord of 
the Rohirrim, friend of Gondor!' he said. 'Hirgon I am, errand-rider of 
Denethor, who bring you this token of war. Gondor is in great need. Often 
the Rohirrim have aided us, but now the Lord Denethor asks for all your 
strength and all your speed; lest Gondor fall at last.' 

'The Red Arrow!' said Thjoden, holding it, as one who receives a 
summons long expected and yet dreadful when it comes. His hand trembled. 
'The Red Arrow has not been seen in the Mark in all my years ! Has it indeed 
come to that? And what does the Lord Denethor reckon that all my strength 
and all my speed may be?' 

'That is best known to yourself, lord,' said Hirgon. 'But ere long it 
may well come to pass that Minas Tirith is surrounded, and unless you have 
the strength to break a siege of many powers, the Lord Denethor bids me say 
that he judges that the strong arms of the Rohirrim would be better within 
his walls than without.' 

'But he knows that we are a people who fight rather upon horseback and 
in the open, and that we are also a scattered people and time is needed for 




the gathering of our Riders. Is it not true, Hirgon, that the Lord of Minas 
Tirith knows more than he sets in his message? For we are already at war, as 
you may have seen, and you do not find us all unprepared. Gandalf the Grey 
has been among us, and even now we are mustering for battle in the East.' 

'What the Lord Denethor may know or guess of all these things I cannot 
say,' answered Hirgon. 'But indeed our case is desperate. My lord does not 
issue any command to you, he begs you only to remember old friendship and 
oaths long spoken, and for your own good to do all that you may. It is 
reported to us that many kings have ridden in from the East to the service 
of Mordor. From the North to the field of Dagorlad there is skirmish and 
rumour of war. In the South the Haradrim are moving, and fear has fallen on 
all our coastlands, so that little help will come to us thence. Make haste! 

For it is before the walls of Minas Tirith that the doom of our time will be 
decided, and if the tide be not stemmed there, then it will flow over all 
the fair fields of Rohan, and even in this Hold among the hills there shall 
be no refuge.' 

'Dark tidings,' said Thjoden, 'yet not all unguessed. But say to 
Denethor that even if Rohan itself felt no peril, still we would come to his 
aid. But we have suffered much loss in our battles with Saruman the traitor, 
and we must still think of our frontier to the north and east, as his own 
tidings make clear. So great a power as the Dark Lord seems now to wield 
might well contain us in battle before the City and yet strike with great 
force across the River away beyond the Gate of Kings. 

'But we will speak no longer counsels of prudence. We will come. The 
weapontake was set for the morrow. When all is ordered we will set out. Ten 
thousand spears I might have sent riding over the plain to the dismay of 
your foes. It will be less now, I fear; for I will not leave my strongholds 
all unguarded. Yet six thousands at the least shall ride behind me. For say 
to Denethor that in this hour the King of the Mark himself will come down to 
the land of Gondor, though maybe he will not ride back. But it is a long 
road, and man and beast must reach the end with strength to fight. A week it 
may be from tomorrow's morn ere you hear the cry of the Sons of Eorl coming 
from the North. 

'A week!' said Hirgon. 'If it must be so, it must. But you are like to 
find only ruined walls in seven days from now, unless other help 
unlooked-for comes. Still, you may at the least disturb the Ores and Swarthy 
Men from their feasting in the White Tower.' 




'At the least we will do that,' said Thjoden. 'But I myself am new-come 
from battle and long journey, and I will now go to rest. Tarry here this 
night. Then you shall look on the muster of Rohan and ride away the gladder 
for the sight, and the swifter for the rest. In the morning counsels are 
best, and night changes many thoughts. 

With that the king stood up, and they all rose. 'Go now each to your 
rest.' he said, 'and sleep well. And you, Master Meriadoc, I need no more 
tonight. But be ready to my call as soon as the Sun is risen.' 

'I will be ready,' said Merry, 'even if you bid me ride with you on the 
Paths of the Dead.' 

'Speak not words of omen!' said the king. 'For there may be more roads 
than one that could bear that name. But I did not say that I would bid you 
ride with me on any road. Good night!' 

'I won't be left behind, to be called for on return!' said Merry. 'I 
won't be left, I won't.' And repeating this over and over again to himself 
he fell asleep at last in his tent. 

He was wakened by a man shaking him. 'Wake up, wake up. Master 
Holbytla!' he cried; and at length Merry came out of deep dreams and sat up 
with a start. It still seemed very dark, he thought. 

'What is the matter?' he asked. 

'The king calls for you.' 

'But the Sun has not risen, yet,' said Merry. 

'No, and will not rise today, Master Holbytla. Nor ever again, one 
would think under this cloud. But time does not stand still, though the Sun 
be lost. Make haste!' 

Flinging on some clothes, Merry looked outside. The world was darkling. 
The very air seemed brown, and all things about were black and grey and 
shadowless; there was a great stillness. No shape of cloud could be seen, 
unless it were far away westward, where the furthest groping fingers of the 
great gloom still crawled onwards and a little light leaked through them. 
Overhead there hung a heavy roof, sombre and featureless, and light seemed 
rather to be failing than growing. 

Merry saw many folk standing, looking up and muttering: all their faces 
were grey and sad, and some were afraid. With a sinking heart he made his 
way to the king. Hirgon the rider of Gondor was there before him, and beside 
him stood now another man, like him and dressed alike, but shorter and 
broader. As Merry entered he was speaking to the king. 




'It comes from Mordor, lord,' he said. 'It began last night at sunset. 

From the hills in the Eastfold of your realm I saw it rise and creep across 
the sky, and all night as I rode it came behind eating up the stars. Now the 
great cloud hangs over all the land between here and the Mountains of 
Shadow; and it is deepening. War has already begun.' 

For a while the king sat silent. At last he spoke. 'So we come to it in 
the end,' he said: 'the great battle of our time, in which many things shall 
pass away. But at least there is no longer need for hiding. We will ride the 
straight way and the open road and with all our speed. The muster shall 
begin at once, and wait for none that tarry. Have you good store in Minas 
Tirith? For if we must ride now in all haste, then we must ride light, with 
but meal and water enough to last us into battle.' 

'We have very great store long prepared,' answered Hirgon. Ride now as 
light and as swift as you may!' 

'Then call the heralds, Jomer,' said Thjoden. 'Let the Riders be 
marshalled!' 

Jomer went out, and presently the trumpets rang in the Hold and were 
answered by many others from below; but their voices no longer sounded clear 
and brave as they had seemed to Merry the night before. Dull they seemed and 
harsh in the heavy air, braying ominously. 

The king turned to Merry. 'I am going to war, Master Meriadoc,' he 
said. 'In a little while I shall take the road. I release you from my 
service, but not from my friendship. You shall abide here, and if you will, 
you shall serve the Lady Jowyn, who will govern the folk in my stead.' 

'But, but, lord,' Merry stammered, 'I offered you my sword. I do not 
want to be parted from you like this, Thjoden King. And as all my friends 
have gone to the battle' I should be ashamed to stay behind.' 

'But we ride on horses tall and swift,' said Thjoden; 'and great though 
your heart be, you cannot ride on such beasts.' 

'Then tie me on to the back of one, or let me hang on a stirrup, or 
something,' said Merry. 'It is a long way to run; but run I shall, if I 
cannot ride, even if I wear my feet off and arrive weeks too late.' 

Thjoden smiled. 'Rather than that I would bear you with me on 
Snowmane,' he said. 'But at the least you shall ride with me to Edoras and 
look on Meduseld; for that way I shall go. So far Stybba can bear you: the 
great race will not begin till we reach the plains.' 

Then Jowyn rose up. 'Come now, Meriadoc!' she said. 'I will show you 




the gear that I have prepared fur you.' They went out together. 'This 
request only did Aragorn make to me,' said Jowyn, as they passed among the 
tents, 'that you should be armed for battle. I have granted it, as I could. 

For my heart tells me that you will need such gear ere the end.' 

Now she led Merry to a booth among the lodges of the king's guard and 
there an armourer brought out to her a small helm, and a round shield, and 
other gear. 

'No mail have we to fit you,' said Jowyn, 'nor any time for the forging 
of such a hauberk; but here is also a stout jerkin of leather, a belt, and a 
knife. A sword you have.' 

Merry bowed, and the lady showed him the shield, which was like the 
shield that had been given to Gimli, and it bore on it the device of the 
white horse. 'Take all these things,' she said, 'and bear them to good 
fortune! Farewell now, Master Meriadoc! Yet maybe we shall meet again, you 
and I.' 

So it was that amid a gathering gloom the King of the Mark made ready 
to lead all his Riders on the eastward road. Flearts were heavy and many 
quailed in the shadow. But they were a stern people, loyal to their lord, 
and little weeping or murmuring was heard, even in the camp in the Flold 
where the exiles from Edoras were housed, women and children and old men. 
Doom hung over them, but they faced it silently. 

Two swift hours passed, and now the king sat upon his white horse, 
glimmering in the half light. Proud and tall he seemed, though the hair that 
flowed beneath his high helm was like snow; and many marvelled at him and 
took heart to see him unbent and unafraid. 

There on the wide flats beside the noisy river were marshalled in many 
companies well nigh five and fifty hundreds of Riders fully armed, and many 
hundreds of other men with spare horses lightly burdened. A single trumpet 
sounded. The king raised his hand, and then silently the host of the Mark 
began to move. Foremost went twelve of the king's household-men, Riders of 
renown. Then the king followed with Jomer on his right. He had said farewell 
to Jowyn above in the Hold, and the memory was grievous; but now he turned 
his mind to the road that lay ahead. Behind him Merry rode on Stybba with 
the errand riders of Gondor, and behind them again twelve more of the king's 
household. They passed down the long ranks of waiting men with stern and 
unmoved faces. But when they had come almost to the end of the line one 
looked up glancing keenly at the hobbit. A young man, Merry thought as he 




returned the glance, less in height and girth than most. He caught the glint 
of clear grey eyes; and then he shivered, for it came suddenly to him that 
it was the face of one without hope who goes in search of death. 

On down the grey road they went beside the Snowbourn rushing on its 
stones; through the hamlets of Underharrow and Upbourn, where many sad 
faces 

of women looked out from dark doors; and so without horn or harp or music of 
men's voices the great ride into the East began with which the songs of 
Rohan were busy for many long lives of men thereafter. 

From dark Dunh arrow in the dim morning 
with thane and captain rode Thengel's son: 
to Edoras he came, the ancient halls 
of the Mark-wardens mist-enshrouded; 
golden timbers were in gloom mantled. 

Farewell he bade to his free people, 

hearth and high-seat, and the hallowed places, 

where long he had feasted ere the light faded. 

Forth rode the king, fear behind him, 
fate before him. Fealty kept he; 
oaths he had taken, all fulfilled them. 

Forth rode Thjoden. Five nights and days 
east and onward rode the Eorlingas 
through Folde and Fenmarch and the Firienwood, 
six thousand spears to Sunlending, 

Mundburg the mighty under Mindolluin, 

Sea-kings' city in the South-kingdom 
foe-beleaguered, fire-encircled. 

Doom drove them on. Darkness took them, 

Horse and horseman; hoofbeats afar 
sank into silence: so the songs tell us. 

It was indeed in deepening gloom that the king came to Edoras, although 
it was then but noon by the hour. There he halted only a short while and 
strengthened his host by some three score of Riders that came late to the 
weapontake. Now having eaten he made ready to set out again, and he wished 
his esquire a kindly farewell. But Merry begged for the last time not to be 
parted from him. 

This is no journey for such steeds as Stybba, as I have told you ' 




said Thjoden. 'And in such a battle as we think to make on the fields of 
Gondor what would you do, Master Meriadoc, sword-thain though you be, 
and 

greater of heart than of stature?' 

'As for that, who can tell?' answered Merry. 'But why, lord, did you 
receive me as sword-thain, if not to stay by your side? And I would not have 
it said of me in song only that I was always left behind!' 

'I received you for your safe-keeping,' answered Thjoden; 'and also to 
do as I might bid. None of my Riders can bear you as burden. If the battle 
were before my gates, maybe your deeds would be remembered by the 
minstrels; 

but it is a hundred leagues and two to Mundburg where Denethor is lord. I 
will say no more.' 

Merry bowed and went away unhappily, and stared at the lines of 
horsemen. Already the companies were preparing to start: men were tightening 
girths, looking to saddles, caressing their horses; some gazed uneasily at 
the lowering sky. Unnoticed a Rider came up and spoke softly in the hobbit's 
ear. 

'Where will wants not, a way opens, so we say,' he whispered; 'and so I 
have found myself.' Merry looked up and saw that it was the young Rider 
whom 

he had noticed in the morning. 'You wish to go whither the Lord of the Mark 
goes: I see it in your face.' 

'I do,' said Merry. 

'Then you shall go with me,' said the Rider. 'I will bear you before 
me, under my cloak until we are far afield, and this darkness is yet darker. 

Such good will should not be denied. Say no more to any man, but come!' 

'Thank you indeed!' said Merry. 'Thank you, sir, though I do not know 
your name.' 

'Do you not?' said the Rider softly. 'Then call me Dernhelm.' 

Thus it came to pass that when the king set out, before Dernhelm sat 
Meriadoc the hobbit, and the great grey steed Windfola made little of the 
burden; for Dernhelm was less in weight than many men, though lithe and 
well-knit in frame. 

On into the shadow they rode. In the willow-thickets where Snowbourn 
flowed into Entwash, twelve leagues east of Edoras, they camped that night. 
And then on again through the Folde; and through the Fenmarch, where to 




their right great oakwoods climbed on the skirts of the hills under the 
shades of dark Halifirien by the borders of Gondor; but away to their left 
the mists lay on the marshes fed by the mouths of Entwash. And as they rode 
rumour came of war in the North. Lone men, riding wild, brought word of foes 
assailing their east -borders, of ore-hosts marching in the Wold of Rohan. 

'Ride on! Ride on!' cried Jomer. 'Too late now to turn aside. The fens 
of Entwash must guard our flank. Haste now we need. Ride on!' 

And so King Thjoden departed from his own realm, and mile by mile the 
long road wound away, and the beacon hills marched past: Calenhad, 
Min-Rimmon, Erelas, Nardol. But their fires were quenched. All the lands 
were grey and still; and ever the shadow deepened before them, and hope 
waned in every heart. 




Chapter 4 . The Siege of Gondor 



Pippin was roused by Gandalf. Candles were lit in their chamber, for 
only a dim twilight came through the windows; the air was heavy as with 
approaching thunder. 

’What is the time?' said Pippin yawning. 

’Past the second hour,’ said Gandalf. 'Time to get up and make yourself 
presentable. You are summoned to the Lord of the City to learn your new 
duties.' 

'And will he provide breakfast?' 

'No! I have provided it: all that you will get till noon. Food is now 
doled out by order.' 

Pippin looked ruefully at the small loaf and (he thought) very 
inadequate pat of butter which was set out for him, beside a cup of thin 
milk. 'Why did you bring me here?' he said. 

'You know quite well,' said Gandalf. 'To keep you out of mischief; and 
if you do not like being here, you can remember that you brought it on 
yourself.' Pippin said no more. 

Before long he was walking with Gandalf once more down the cold 
corridor to the door of the Tower Hall. There Denethor sat in a grey gloom, 
like an old patient spider, Pippin thought: he did not seem to have moved 
since the day before. He beckoned Gandalf to a seat, but Pippin was left for 
a while standing unheeded. Presently the old man turned to him: 

'Well, Master Peregrin, I hope that you used yesterday to your profit, 
and to your liking? Though I fear that the board is barer in this city than 
you could wish.' 

Pippin had an uncomfortable feeling that most of what he had said or 
done was somehow known to the Lord of the City, and much was guessed of 
what 

he thought as well. He did not answer. 

'What would you do in my service?' 

'I thought, sir, that you would tell me my duties.' 

'I will, when I learn what you are fit for,' said Denethor. 'But that I 
shall learn soonest, maybe, if I keep you beside me. The esquire of my 
chamber has begged leave to go to the out-garrison, so you shall take his 




place for a while. You shall wait on me, bear errands, and talk to me, if 
war and council leave me any leisure. Can you sing?' 

’Yes,' said Pippin. 'Well, yes, well enough for my own people. But we 
have no songs fit for great halls and evil times, lord. We seldom sing of 
anything more terrible than wind or rain. And most of my songs are about 
things that make us laugh; or about food and drink, of course.' 

’And why should such songs be unfit for my halls, or for such hours as 
these? We who have lived long under the Shadow may surely listen to echoes 
from a land untroubled by it? Then we may feel that our vigil was not 
fruitless, though it may have been thankless.' 

Pippin's heart sank. He did not relish the idea of singing any song of 
the Shire to the Lord of Minas Tirith, certainly not the comic ones that he 
knew best; they were too, well, rustic for such an occasion. He was however 
spared the ordeal for the present. He was not commanded to sing. Denethor 
turned to Gandalf, asking questions about the Rohirrim and their policies, 
and the position of Jomer, the king's nephew. Pippin marvelled at the amount 
that the Lord seemed to know about a people that lived far away, though it 
must, he thought, be many years since Denethor himself had ridden abroad. 

Presently Denethor waved to Pippin and dismissed him again for a while. 
'Go to the armouries of the Citadel,' he said, 'and get you there the livery 
and gear of the Tower. It will be ready. It was commanded yesterday. Return 
when you are clad!' 

It was as he said; and Pippin soon found himself arrayed in strange 
garments, all of black and silver. He had a small hauberk, its rings forged 
of steel, maybe, yet black as jet; and a high-crowned helm with small 
raven-wings on either side, set with a silver star in the centre of the 
circlet. Above the mail was a short surcoat of black, but broidered on the 
breast in silver with the token of the Tree. His old clothes were folded and 
put away, but he was permitted to keep the grey cloak of Lurien, though not 
to wear it when on duty. He looked now, had he known it, verily Ernil i 
Pheriannath, the Prince of the Halflings, that folk had called him; but he 
felt uncomfortable. And the gloom began to weigh on his spirits. 

It was dark and dim all day. From the sunless dawn until evening the 
heavy shadow had deepened, and all hearts in the City were oppressed. Far 
above a great cloud streamed slowly westward from the Black Land, 
devouring 

light, borne upon a wind of war; but below the air was still and breathless, 




as if all the Vale of Anduin waited for the onset of a ruinous storm. 

About the eleventh hour, released at last for a while from service. 

Pippin came out and went in search of food and drink to cheer his heavy 
heart and make his task of waiting more supportable. In the messes he met 
Beregond again, who had just come from an errand over the Pelennor out to 
the Guard-towers upon the Causeway. Together they strolled out to the walls; 
for Pippin felt imprisoned indoors, and stifled even in the lofty citadel. 

Now they sat side by side again in the embrasure looking eastward, where 
they had eaten and talked the day before. 

It was the sunset-hour, but the great pall had now stretched far into 
the West, and only as it sank at last into the Sea did the Sun escape to 
send out a brief farewell gleam before the night, even as Frodo saw it at 
the Cross-roads touching the head of the fallen king. But to the fields of 
the Pelennor, under the shadow of Mindolluin, there came no gleam: they were 
brown and drear. 

Already it seemed years to Pippin since he had sat there before, in 
some half-forgotten time when he had still been a hobbit, a light-hearted 
wanderer touched little by the perils he had passed through. Now he was one 
small soldier in a city preparing for a great assault, clad in the proud but 
sombre manner of the Tower of Guard. 

In some other time and place Pippin might have been pleased with his 
new array, but he knew now that he was taking part in no play; he was in 
deadly earnest the servant of a grim master in the greatest peril. The 
hauberk was burdensome, and the helm weighed upon his head. His cloak he 
had 

cast aside upon the seat. He turned his tired gaze away from the darkling 
fields below and yawned, and then he sighed. 

'You are weary of this day?' said Beregond. 

'Yes,' said Pippin, ’very: tired out with idleness and waiting. I have 
kicked my heels at the door of my master's chamber for many slow hours, 
while he has debated with Gandalf and the Prince and other great persons. 
And I'm not used, Master Beregond, to waiting hungry on others while they 
eat. It is a sore trial for a hobbit, that. No doubt you will think I should 
feel the honour more deeply. But what is the good of such honour? Indeed 
what is the good even of food and drink under this creeping shadow? What 
does it mean? The very air seems thick and brown! Do you often have such 
glooms when the wind is in the East?' 




'Nay,' said Beregond, 'this is no weather of the world. This is some 
device of his malice; some broil of fume from the Mountain of Fire that he 
sends to darken hearts and counsel. And so it doth indeed. I wish the Lord 
Faramir would return. Fie would not be dismayed. But now, who knows if he 
will ever come back across the River out of the Darkness?' 

'Yes,' said Pippin, 'Gandalf, too, is anxious. He was disappointed. I 
think, not to find Faramir here. And where has he got to himself? He left 
the Lord's council before the noon-meal, and in no good mood either, I 
thought. Perhaps he has some foreboding of bad news.' 

Suddenly as they talked they were stricken dumb, frozen as it were to 
listening stones. Pippin cowered down with his hands pressed to his ears; 
but Beregond, who had been looking out from the battlement as he spoke of 
Faramir, remained there, stiffened, staring out with starting eyes. Pippin 
knew the shuddering cry that he had heard: it was the same that he had heard 
long ago in the Marish of the Shire, but now it was grown in power and 
hatred, piercing the heart with a poisonous despair. 

At last Beregond spoke with an effort. 'They have come!' he said. 'Take 
courage and look! There are fell things below.' 

Reluctantly Pippin climbed on to the seat and looked out over the wall. 

The Pelennor lay dim beneath him, fading away to the scarce guessed line of 
the Great River. But now wheeling swiftly across it, like shadows of 
untimely night, he saw in the middle airs below him five birdlike forms, 
horrible as carrion-fowl yet greater than eagles, cruel as death. Now they 
swooped near, venturing almost within bowshot of the walls, now they circled 
away. 

'Black Riders!' muttered Pippin. 'Black Riders of the air! But see, 
Beregond!' he cried. 'They are looking for something, surely? See how they 
wheel and swoop, always down to that point over there! And can you see 
something moving on the ground? Dark little things. Yes, men on horses: four 
or five. Ah! I cannot stand it! Gandalf! Gandalf save us!' 

Another long screech rose and fell, and he threw himself back again 
from the wall, panting like a hunted animal. Faint and seemingly remote 
through that shuddering cry he heard winding up from below the sound of a 
trumpet ending on a long high note. 

'Faramir! The Lord Faramir! It is his call!' cried Beregond. 'Brave 
heart! But how can he win to the Gate, if these foul hell -hawks have other 
weapons than fear? But look! They hold on. They will make the Gate. No! the 




horses are running mad. Look! the men are thrown; they are running on foot. 
No, one is still up, but he rides back to the others. That will be the 
Captain: he can master both beasts and men. Ah! there one of the foul things 
is stooping on him. Help! help! Will no one go out to him? Faramir!' 

With that Beregond sprang away and ran off into the gloom. Ashamed of 
his terror, while Beregond of the Guard thought first of the captain whom he 
loved, Pippin got up and peered out. At that moment he caught a flash of 
white and silver coming from the North, like a small star down on the dusky 
fields. It moved with the speed of an arrow and grew as it came, converging 
swiftly with the flight of the four men towards the Gate. It seemed to 
Pippin that a pale light was spread about it and the heavy shadows gave way 
before it; and then as it drew near he thought that he heard, like an echo 
in the walls, a great voice calling. 

’Gandalf!’ he cried. 'Gandalf! He always turns up when things are 
darkest. Go on! Go on, White Rider! Gandalf, Gandalf!’ he shouted wildly, 
like an onlooker at a great race urging on a runner who is far beyond 
encouragement. 

But now the dark swooping shadows were aware of the newcomer. One 
wheeled towards him; but it seemed to Pippin that he raised his hand, and 
from it a shaft of white light stabbed upwards. The Nazgyl gave a long 
wailing cry and swerved away; and with that the four others wavered, and 
then rising in swift spirals they passed away eastward vanishing into the 
lowering cloud above; and down on the Pelennor it seemed for a while less 
dark. 

Pippin watched, and he saw the horseman and the White Rider meet and 
halt, waiting for those on foot. Men now hurried out to them from the City; 
and soon they all passed from sight under the outer walls, and he knew that 
they were entering the Gate. Guessing that they would come at once to the 
Tower and the Steward, he hurried to the entrance of the citadel. There he 
was joined by many others who had watched the race and the rescue from the 
high walls. 

It was not long before a clamour was heard in the streets leading up 
from the outer circles, and there was much cheering and crying of the names 
of Faramir and Mithrandir. Presently Pippin saw torches, and followed by a 
press of people two horsemen riding slowly: one was in white but shining no 
longer, pale in the twilight as if his fire was spent or veiled; the other 
was dark and his head was bowed. They dismounted, and as grooms took 




Shadowfax and the other horse, they walked forward to the sentinel at the 
gate: Gandalf steadily, his grey cloak flung back, and a fire still 
smouldering in his eyes; the other, clad all in green, slowly, swaying a 
little as a weary or a wounded man. 

Pippin pressed forward as they passed under the lamp beneath the 
gate-arch, and when he saw the pale face of Faramir he caught his breath. It 
was the face of one who has been assailed by a great fear or anguish, but 
has mastered it and now is quiet. Proud and grave he stood for a moment as 
he spoke to the guard, and Pippin gazing at him saw how closely he resembled 
his brother Boromir - whom Pippin had liked from the first, admiring the 
great man's lordly but kindly manner. Yet suddenly for Faramir his heart was 
strangely moved with a feeling that he had not known before. Flere was one 
with an air of high nobility such as Aragorn at times revealed, less high 
perhaps, yet also less incalculable and remote: one of the Kings of Men born 
into a later time, but touched with the wisdom and sadness of the Elder 
Race. He knew now why Beregond spoke his name with love. He was a 
captain 

that men would follow, that he would follow, even under the shadow of the 
black wings. 

'Faramir!' he cried aloud with the others. 'Faramir!' And Faramir 
catching his strange voice among the clamour of the men of the City, turned 
and looked down at him and was amazed. 

'Whence come you?' he said. 'A halfling, and in the livery of the 
Tower! Whence...?' 

But with that Gandalf stepped to his side and spoke. 'He came with me 
from the land of the Halflings,' he said. 'He came with me. But let us not 
tarry here. There is much to say and to do, and you are weary. He shall come 
with us. Indeed he must, for if he does not forget his new duties more 
easily than I do, he must attend on his lord again within this hour. Come, 
Pippin, follow us!' 

So at length they came to the private chamber of the Lord of the City. 
There deep seats were set about a brazier of charcoal; and wine was brought; 
and there Pippin, hardly noticed, stood behind the chair of Denethor and 
felt his weariness little, so eagerly did he listen to all that was said. 

When Faramir had taken white bread and drunk a draught of wine, he sat 
upon a low chair at his father's left hand. Removed a little upon the other 
side sat Gandalf in a chair of carven wood; and he seemed at first to be 




asleep. For at the beginning Faramir spoke only of the errand upon which he 
had been sent out ten days before, and he brought tidings of Ithilien and of 
movements of the Enemy and his allies; and he told of the fight on the road 
when the men of Harad and their great beast were overthrown: a captain 
reporting to his master such matters as had often been heard before, small 
things of border-war that now seemed useless and petty, shorn of their 
renown. 

Then suddenly Faramir looked at Pippin. 'But now we come to strange 
matters,' he said. 'For this is not the first halfling that I have seen 
walking out of northern legends into the Southlands.' 

At that Gandalf sat up and gripped the arms of his chair; but he said 
nothing, and with a look stopped the exclamation on Pippin's lips. Denethor 
looked at their faces and nodded his head, as though in sign that he had 
read much there before it was spoken. Slowly, while the others sat silent 
and still, Faramir told his tale, with his eyes for the most part on 
Gandalf, though now and again his glance strayed to Pippin, as if to refresh 
his memory of others that he had seen. 

As his story was unfolded of his meeting with Frodo and his servant and 
of the events at Henneth Annyn, Pippin became aware that Gandalf s hands 
were trembling as they clutched the carven wood. White they seemed now 
and 

very old, and as he looked at them, suddenly with a thrill of fear Pippin 
knew that Gandalf, Gandalf himself, was troubled, even afraid. The air of 
the room was close and still. At last when Faramir spoke of his parting with 
the travellers, and of their resolve to go to Cirith Ungol, his voice fell, 
and he shook his head and sighed. Then Gandalf sprang up. 

'Cirith Ungol? Morgul Vale?' he said. 'The time, Faramir, the time? 
When did you part with them? When would they reach that accursed valley?' 

'I parted with them in the morning two days ago,' said Faramir. 'It is 
fifteen leagues thence to the vale of the Morgulduin, if they went straight 
south; and then they would be still five leagues westward of the accursed 
Tower. At swiftest they could not come there before today, and maybe they 
have not come there yet. Indeed I see what you fear. But the darkness is not 
due to their venture. It began yestereve, and all Ithilien was under shadow 
last night. It is clear to me that the Enemy has long planned an assault on 
us, and its hour had already been determined before ever the travellers left 
my keeping.' 




Gandalf paced the floor. The morning of two days ago, nigh on three 
days of journey! How far is the place where you parted?' 

’Some twenty-five leagues as a bird flies,' answered Faramir. 'But I 
could not come more swiftly. Yestereve I lay at Cair Andros, the long isle 
in the River northward which we hold in defence; and horses are kept on the 
hither bank. As the dark drew on I knew that haste was needed, so I rode 
thence with three others that could also be horsed. The rest of my company I 
sent south to strengthen the garrison at the fords of Osgiliath. I hope that 
I have not done ill?' He looked at his father. 

'111?' cried Denethor, and his eyes flashed suddenly. 'Why do you ask? 

The men were under your command. Or do you ask for my judgement on all 
your 

deeds? Your bearing is lowly in my presence, yet it is long now since you 
turned from your own way at my counsel. See, you have spoken skilfully, as 
ever; but I, have I not seen your eye fixed on Mithrandir, seeking whether 
you said well or too much? He has long had your heart in his keeping. 

'My son, your father is old but not yet dotard. I can see and hear, as 
was my wont; and little of what you have half said or left unsaid is now 
hidden from me. I know the answer to many riddles. Alas, alas for Boromir!' 

'If what I have done displeases you, my father,' said Faramir quietly, 

'I wish I had known your counsel before the burden of so weighty a judgement 
was thrust on me.' 

'Would that have availed to change your judgement?' said Denethor. 'You 
would still have done just so, I deem. I know you well. Ever your desire is 
to appear lordly and generous as a king of old, gracious, gentle. That may 
well befit one of high race, if he sits in power and peace. But in desperate 
hours gentleness may be repaid with death.' 

'So be it,' said Faramir. 

'So be it!' cried Denethor. 'But not with your death only, Lord 
Faramir: with the death also of your father, and of all your people, whom it 
is your part to protect now that Boromir is gone.' 

'Do you wish then,' said Faramir, 'that our places had been exchanged?' 

'Yes, I wish that indeed,' said Denethor. 'For Boromir was loyal to me 
and no wizard's pupil. He would have remembered his father's need, and would 
not have squandered what fortune gave. He would have brought me a mighty 
gift.' 

For a moment Faramir's restraint gave way. 'I would ask you, my father, 




to remember why it was that I, not he, was in Ithilien. On one occasion at 
least your counsel has prevailed, not long ago. It was the Lord of the City 
that gave the errand to him.' 

'Stir not the bitterness in the cup that I mixed for myself,' said 
Denethor. 'Have I not tasted it now many nights upon my tongue foreboding 
that worse yet lay in the dregs? As now indeed I find. Would it were not so! 
Would that this thing had come to me!' 

'Comfort yourself!' said Gandalf. 'In no case would Boromir have 
brought it to you. He is dead, and died well; may he sleep in peace! Yet you 
deceive yourself. He would have stretched out his hand to this thing, and 
taking it he would have fallen. He would have kept it for his own, and when 
he returned you would not have known your son.' 

The face of Denethor set hard and cold. 'You found Boromir less apt to 
your hand, did you not?' he said softly. 'But I who was his father say that 
he would have brought it to me. You are wise, maybe, Mithrandir, yet with 
all your subtleties you have not all wisdom. Counsels may be found that are 
neither the webs of wizards nor the haste of fools. I have in this matter 
more lore and wisdom than you deem. ' 

'What then is your wisdom?' said Gandalf. 

'Enough to perceive that there are two follies to avoid. To use this 
thing is perilous. At this hour, to send it in the hands of a witless 
halfling into the land of the Enemy himself, as you have done, and this son 
of mine, that is madness.' 

'And the Lord Denethor what would he have done?' 

'Neither. But most surely not for any argument would he have set this 
thing at a hazard beyond all but a fool's hope, risking our utter ruin, if 
the Enemy should recover what he lost. Nay, it should have been kept, 
hidden, hidden dark and deep. Not used, I say, unless at the uttermost end 
of need, but set beyond his grasp, save by a victory so final that what then 
befell would not trouble us, being dead.' 

'You think, as is your wont, my lord, of Gondor only,' said Gandalf. 

'Yet there are other men and other lives, and time still to be. And for me, 

I pity even his slaves.' 

'And where will other men look for help, if Gondor falls?' answered 
Denethor. 'If I had this thing now in the deep vaults of this citadel, we 
should not then shake with dread under this gloom, fearing the worst, and 
our counsels would be undisturbed. If you do not trust me to endure the 




test, you do not know me yet.' 

'Nonetheless I do not trust you,' said Gandalf. 'Had I done so, I could 
have sent this thing hither to your keeping and spared myself and others 
much anguish. And now hearing you speak I trust you less, no more than 
Boromir. Nay, stay your wrath! I do not trust myself in this, and I refused 
this thing, even as a freely given gift. You are strong and can still in 
some matters govern yourself, Denethor; yet if you had received this thing, 
it would have overthrown you. Were it buried beneath the roots of 
Mindolluin, still it would burn your mind away, as the darkness grows, and 
the yet worse things follow that soon shall come upon us.' 

For a moment the eyes of Denethor glowed again as he faced Gandalf, and 
Pippin felt once more the strain between their wills; but now almost it 
seemed as if their glances were like blades from eye to eye, flickering as 
they fenced. Pippin trembled fearing some dreadful stroke. But suddenly 
Denethor relaxed and grew cold again. He shrugged his shoulders. 

'If I had! If you had!' he said. 'Such words and ifs are vain. It has 
gone into the Shadow, and only time will show what doom awaits it and us. 
The time will not be long. In what is left, let all who fight the Enemy in 
their fashion be at one, and keep hope while they may, and after hope still 
the hardihood to die free.' He turned to Faramir. 'What think you of the 
garrison at Osgiliath?' 

'It is not strong,' said Faramir. 'I have sent the company of Ithilien 
to strengthen it, as I have said.' 

'Not enough, I deem,' said Denethor. 'It is there that the first blow 
will fall. They will have need of some stout captain there.' 

'There and elsewhere in many places,' said Faramir, and sighed. 'Alas 
for my brother, whom I too loved!' He rose. 'May I have your leave, father?' 
And then he swayed and leaned upon his father's chair. 

'You are weary, I see,' said Denethor. 'You have ridden fast and far, 
and under shadows of evil in the air, I am told.' 

'Let us not speak of that!' said Faramir. 

'Then we will not,' said Denethor. 'Go now and rest as you may. 
Tomorrow's need will be sterner.' 

All now took leave of the Lord of the City and went to rest while they 
still could. Outside there was a starless blackness as Gandalf with Pippin 
beside him bearing a small torch, made his way to their lodging. They did 
not speak until they were behind closed doors. Then at last Pippin took 




Gandalf s hand. 

Tell me,' he said, 'is there any hope? For Frodo, I mean; or at least 
mostly for Frodo.' 

Gandalf put his hand on Pippin's head. 'There never was much hope,' he 
answered. 'Just a fool's hope, as I have been told. And when I heard of 

Cirith Ungol ' He broke off and strode to the window as if his eyes 

could pierce the night in the East. 'Cirith Ungol!' he muttered. 'Why that 
way, I wonder?' He turned. 'Just now, Pippin, my heart almost failed me, 
hearing that name. And yet in truth I believe that the news that Faramir 
brings has some hope in it. For it seems clear that our Enemy has opened his 
war at last and made the first move while Frodo was still free. So now for 
many days he will have his eye turned this way and that, away from his own 
land. And yet, Pippin, I feel from afar his haste and fear. He has begun 
sooner than he would. Something has happened to stir him.' 

Gandalf stood for a moment in thought. 'Maybe,' he muttered. 'Maybe 
even your foolishness helped, my lad. Let me see: some five days ago now he 
would discover that we had thrown down Saruman and had taken the Stone. 
Still what of that? We could not use it to much purpose, or without his 
knowing. Ah! I wonder. Aragorn? His time draws near. And he is strong and 
stern underneath, Pippin; bold, determined, able to take his own counsel and 
dare great risks at need. That may be it. He may have used the Stone and 
shown himself to the Enemy, challenging him, for this very purpose. I 
wonder. Well, we shall not know the answer till the Riders of Rohan come, if 
they do not come too late. There are evil days ahead. To sleep while we 
may!' 

'But,' said Pippin. 

'But what?' said Gandalf. 'Only one but will I allow tonight.' 

'Gollum,' said Pippin. 'How on earth could they be going about with 
him, even following him? And I could see that Faramir did not like the place 
he was taking them to any more than you do. What is wrong?' 

'I cannot answer that now,' said Gandalf. 'Yet my heart guessed that 
Frodo and Gollum would meet before the end. For good, or for evil. But of 
Cirith Ungol I will not speak tonight. Treachery, treachery I fear; 
treachery of that miserable creature. But so it must be. Let us remember 
that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend. It 
can be so, sometimes. Good night! ' 

The next day came with a morning like a brown dusk, and the hearts of 




men, lifted for a while by the return of Faramir, sank low again. The winged 
Shadows were not seen again that day, yet ever and anon, high above the 
city, a faint cry would come, and many who heard it would stand stricken 
with a passing dread, while the less stout-hearted quailed and wept. 

And now Faramir was gone again. 'They give him no rest,' some murmured. 
'The Lord drives his son too hard, and now he must do the duty of two, for 
himself and for the one that will not return.' And ever men looked 
northward, asking: 'Where are the Riders of Rohan?' 

In truth Faramir did not go by his own choosing. But the Lord of the 
City was master of his Council, and he was in no mood that day to bow to 
others. Early in the morning the Council had been summoned. There all the 
captains judged that because of the threat in the South their force was too 
weak to make any stroke of war on their own part, unless perchance the 
Riders of Rohan yet should come. Meanwhile they must man the walls and 
wait. 

'Yet,' said Denethor, 'we should not lightly abandon the outer 
defences, the Rammas made with so great a labour. And the Enemy must 
pay 

dearly for the crossing of the River. That he cannot do, in force to assail 
the City, either north of Cair Andros because of the marshes, or southwards 
towards Lebennin because of the breadth of the River, that needs many boats. 

It is at Osgiliath that he will put his weight, as before when Boromir 
denied him the passage.' 

'That was but a trial,' said Faramir. 'Today we may make the Enemy pay 
ten times our loss at the passage and yet rue the exchange. For he can 
afford to lose a host better than we to lose a company. And the retreat of 
those that we put out far afield will be perilous, if he wins across in 
force.' 

'And what of Cair Andros?' said the Prince. 'That, too, must be held, 
if Osgiliath is defended. Let us not forget the danger on our left. The 
Rohirrim may come, and they may not. But Faramir has told us of great 
strength drawing ever to the Black Gate. More than one host may issue from 
it, and strike for more than one passage.' 

'Much must be risked in war,' said Denethor. 'Cair Andros is manned and 
no more can be sent so far. But I will not yield the River and the Pelennor 
unfought - not if there is a captain here who has still the courage to do 
his lord's will.' 




Then all were silent, but at length Faramir said: 'I do not oppose your 
will, sire. Since you are robbed of Boromir, I will go and do what I can in 
his stead - if you command it.' 

'I do so,' said Denethor. 

Then farewell!' said Faramir. 'But if I should return, think better of 
me!' 

'That depends on the manner of your return,' said Denethor. 

Gandalf it was that last spoke to Faramir ere he rode east. 'Do not 
throw your live away rashly or in bitterness,' he said. 'You will be needed 
here, for other things than war. Your father loves you, Faramir, and will 
remember it ere the end. Farewell!' 

So now the Lord Faramir had gone forth again, and had taken with him 
such strength of men as were willing to go or could be spared. On the walls 
some gazed through the gloom towards the ruined city, and they wondered 
what 

chanced there, for nothing could be seen. And others, as ever, looked north 
and counted the leagues to Thjoden in Rohan. 'Will he come? Will he 
remember 

our old alliance?' they said. 

'Yes, he will come,' said Gandalf, 'even if he comes too late. But 
think! At best the Red Arrow cannot have reached him more than two days 
ago, 

and the miles are long from Edoras.' 

It was night again ere news came. A man rode in haste from the fords, 
saying that a host had issued from Minas Morgul and was already drawing nigh 
to Osgiliath; and it had been joined by regiments from the South, Haradrim, 
cruel and tall. 'And we have learned ' said the messenger, 'that the Black 
Captain leads them once again, and the fear of him has passed before him 
over the River.' 

With those ill-boding words the third day closed since Pippin came to 
Minas Tirith. Few went to rest, for small hope had any now that even Faramir 
could hold the fords for long. 

The next day, though the darkness had reached its full and grew no 
deeper, it weighed heavier on men's hearts, and a great dread was on them. 

Ill news came soon again. The passage of Anduin was won by the Enemy. 
Faramir was retreating to the wall of the Pelennor, rallying his men to the 
Causeway Forts; but he was ten times outnumbered. 




'If he wins back at all across the Pelennor, his enemies will be on his 
heels,' said the messenger. 'They have paid dear for the crossing but less 
dearly than we hoped. The plan has been well laid. It is now seen that in 
secret they have long been building floats and barges in great numbers in 
East Osgiliath. They swarmed across like beetles. But it is the Black 
Captain that defeats us. Few will stand and abide even the rumour of his 
coming. His own folk quail at him, and they would slay themselves at his 
bidding.' 

'Then I am needed there more than here,' said Gandalf, and rode off at 
once, and the glimmer of him faded soon from sight. And all that night 
Pippin alone and sleepless stood upon the wall and gazed eastward. 

The bells of day had scarcely rung out again, a mockery in the 
unlightened dark, when far away he saw fires spring up, across in the dim 
spaces where the walls of the Pelennor stood. The watchmen cried aloud, and 
all men in the City stood to arms. Now ever and anon there was a red flash, 
and slowly through the heavy air dull rumbles could be heard. 

'They have taken the wall!' men cried. 'They are blasting breaches in 
it. They are coming!' 

'Where is Faramir?' cried Beregond in dismay. 'Say not that he has 
fallen!' 

It was Gandalf that brought the first tidings. With a handful of 
horsemen he came in the middle morning, riding as escort to a line of wains. 
They were filled with wounded men, all that could be saved from the wreck of 
the Causeway Forts. At once he went to Denethor. The Ford of the City sat 
now in a high chamber above the Hall of the White Tower with Pippin at his 
side; and through the dim windows, north and south and east, he bent his 
dark eyes, as if to pierce the shadows of doom that ringed him round. Most 
to the north he looked, and would pause at whiles to listen as if by some 
ancient art his ears might hear the thunder of hoofs on the plains far away. 

'Is Faramir come?' he asked. 

'No,' said Gandalf. 'But he still lived when I left him. Yet he is 
resolved to stay with the rearguard, lest the retreat over the Pelennor 
become a rout. He may, perhaps, hold his men together long enough, but I 
doubt it. He is pitted against a foe too great. For one has come that I 
feared.' 

'Not - the Dark Ford?' cried Pippin, forgetting his place in his 
terror. 




Denethor laughed bitterly. 'Nay, not yet, Master Peregrin! He will not 
come save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others as his 
weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling. Or why 
should I sit here in my tower and think, and watch, and wait, spending even 
my sons? For I can still wield a brand.' 

He stood up and cast open his long black cloak, and behold! he was clad 
in mail beneath, and girt with a long sword, great-hilted in a sheath of 
black and silver. 'Thus have I walked, and thus now for many years have I 
slept,' he said, 'lest with age the body should grow soft and timid.' 

'Yet now under the Lord of Barad-dyr the most fell of all his captains 
is already master of your outer walls,' said Gandalf. 'King of Angmar long 
ago, Sorcerer, Ringwraith, Lord of the Nazgyl, a spear of terror in the hand 
of Sauron, shadow of despair.' 

'Then, Mithrandir, you had a foe to match you,' said Denethor. 'For 
myself, I have long known who is the chief captain of the hosts of the Dark 
Tower. Is this all that you have returned to say? Or can it be that you have 
withdrawn because you are overmatched?' 

Pippin trembled, fearing that Gandalf would be stung to sudden wrath, 
but his fear was needless. 'It might be so,' Gandalf answered softly. 'But 
our trial of strength is not yet come. And if words spoken of old be true, 
not by the hand of man shall he fall, and hidden from the Wise is the doom 
that awaits him. However that may be, the Captain of Despair does not press 
forward, yet. He rules rather according to the wisdom that you have just 
spoken, from the rear, driving his slaves in madness on before. 

'Nay, I came rather to guard the hurt men that can yet be healed; for 
the Rammas is breached far and wide, and soon the host of Morgul will enter 
in at many points. And I came chiefly to say this. Soon there will be battle 
on the fields. A sortie must be made ready. Let it be of mounted men. In 
them lies our brief hope, for in one thing only is the enemy still poorly 
provided: he has few horsemen.' 

'And we also have few. Now would the coming of Rohan be in the nick of 
time,' said Denethor. 

'We are likely to see other newcomers first,' said Gandalf. 'Fugitives 
from Cair Andros have already reached us. The isle has fallen. Another army 
is come from the Black Gate, crossing from the north-east.' 

'Some have accused you, Mithrandir, of delighting to bear ill news,' 
said Denethor, 'but to me this is no longer news: it was known to mw ere 




nightfall yesterday. As for the sortie, I had already given thought to it. 

Let us go down.' 

Time passed. At length watchers on the walls could see the retreat of 
the out-companies. Small bands of weary and often wounded men came first 
with little order; some were running wildly as if pursued. Away to the 
eastward the distant fires flickered; and now it seemed that here and there 
they crept across the plain. Houses and barns were burning. Then from many 
points little rivers of red flame came hurrying on, winding through the 
gloom, converging towards the line of the broad road that led from the 
City-gate to Osgiliath. 

'The enemy,' men murmured. 'The dike is down. Here they come pouring 
through the breaches! And they carry torches, it seems. Where are our own 
folk?' 

It drew now to evening by the hour, and the light was so dim that even 
far-sighted men upon the Citadel could discern little clearly out upon the 
fields, save only the burnings that ever multiplied, and the lines of fire 
that grew in length and speed. At last, less than a mile from the City, a 
more ordered mass of men came into view, marching not running, still holding 
together. 

The watchers held their breath. 'Faramir must be there,' they said. 'He 
can govern man and beast. He will make it yet.' 

Now the main retreat was scarcely two furlongs distant. Out of the 
gloom behind a small company of horsemen galloped, all that was left of the 
rearguard. Once again they turned at bay, facing the oncoming lines of fire. 
Then suddenly there was a tumult of fierce cries. Horsemen of the enemy 
swept up. The lines of fire became flowing torrents, file upon file of Ores 
bearing flames, and wild Southron men with red banners, shouting with harsh 
tongues, surging up, overtaking the retreat. And with a piercing cry out of 
the dim sky fell the winged shadows, the Nazgyl stooping to the kill. 

The retreat became a rout. Already men were breaking away, flying wild 
and witless here and there, flinging away their weapons, crying out in fear, 
falling to the ground. 

And then a trumpet rang from the Citadel, and Denethor at last released 
the sortie. Drawn up within the shadow of the Gate and under the looming 
walls outside they had waited for his signal: all the mounted men that were 
left in the City. Now they sprang forward, formed, quickened to a gallop, 
and charged with a great shout. And from the walls an answering shout went 




up; for foremost on the field rode the swan-knights of Dol Amroth with their 
Prince and his blue banner at their head. 

'Amroth for Gondor!' they cried. ’Amroth to Faramir!' 

Like thunder they broke upon the enemy on either flank of the retreat; 
but one rider outran them all, swift as the wind in the grass: Shadowfax 
bore him, shining, unveiled once more, a light starting from his upraised 
hand. 

The Nazgyl screeched and swept away, for their Captain was not yet come 
to challenge the white fire of his foe. The hosts of Morgul intent on their 
prey, taken at unawares in wild career, broke, scattering like sparks in a 
gale. The out-companies with a great cheer turned and smote their pursuers. 
Hunters became the hunted. The retreat became an onslaught. The field was 
strewn with stricken ores and men, and a reek arose of torches cast away, 
sputtering out in swirling smoke. The cavalry rode on. 

But Denethor did not permit them to go far. Though the enemy was 
checked, and for the moment driven back, great forces were flowing in from 
the East. Again the trumpet rang, sounding the retreat. The cavalry of 
Gondor halted. Behind their screen the out-companies re-formed. Now steadily 
they came marching back. They reached the Gate of the City and entered, 
stepping proudly: and proudly the people of the City looked on them and 
cried their praise, and yet they were troubled in heart. For the companies 
were grievously reduced. Faramir had lost a third of his men. And where was 
he? 

Last of all he came. His men passed in. The mounted knights returned, 
and at their rear the banner of Dol Amroth, and the Prince. And in his arms 
before him on his horse he bore the body of his kinsman, Faramir son of 
Denethor, found upon the stricken field. 

'Faramir! Faramir!' men cried, weeping in the streets. But he did not 
answer, and they bore him away up the winding road to the Citadel and his 
father. Even as the Nazgyl had swerved aside from the onset of the White 
Rider, there came flying a deadly dart, and Faramir, as he held at bay a 
mounted champion of Harad, had fallen to the earth. Only the charge of Dol 
Amroth had saved him from the red southland swords that would have hewed 
him 

as he lay. 

The Prince Imrahil brought Faramir to the White Tower, and he said: 
Your son has returned, lord, after great deeds, and he told all that he had 




seen. But Denethor rose and looked on the face of his son and was silent. 

Then he bade them make a bed in the chamber and lay Faramir upon it and 
depart. But he himself went up alone into the secret room under the summit 
of the Tower; and many who looked up thither at that time saw a pale light 
that gleamed and flickered from the narrow windows for a while, and then 
flashed and went out. And when Denethor descended again he went to 
Faramir 

and sat beside him without speaking, but the face of the Lord was grey, more 
deathlike than his son's. 

So now at last the City was besieged, enclosed in a ring of foes. The 
Rammas was broken, and all the Pelennor abandoned to the Enemy. The last 
word to come from outside the walls was brought by men flying down the 
northward road ere the Gate was shut. They were the remnant of the guard 
that was kept at that point where the way from Anurien and Rohan ran into 
the townlands: Ingold led them, the same who had admitted Gandalf and Pippin 
less than five days before, while the sun still rose and there was hope in 
the morning. 

There is no news of the Rohirrim,' he said. ’Rohan will not come now. 

Or if they come, it will not avail us. The new host that we had tidings of 
has come first, from over the River by way of Andros, it is said. They are 
strong: battalions of Ores of the Eye, and countless companies of Men of a 
new sort that we have not met before. Not tall, but broad and grim, bearded 
like dwarves, wielding great axes. Out of some savage land in the wide East 
they come, we deem. They hold the northward road; and many have passed 
on 

into Anurien. The Rohirrim cannot come.' 

The Gate was shut. All night watchmen on the walls heard the rumour of 
the enemy that roamed outside, burning field and tree, and hewing any man 
that they found abroad, living or dead. The numbers that had already passed 
over the River could not be guessed in the darkness, but when morning, or 
its dim shadow, stole over the plain, it was seen that even fear by night 
had scarcely over-counted them. The plain was dark with their marching 
companies, and as far as eyes could strain in the mirk there sprouted, like 
a foul fungus-growth, all about the beleaguered city great camps of tents, 
black or sombre red. 

Busy as ants hurrying ores were digging, digging lines of deep trenches 
in a huge ring, just out of bowshot from the walls; and as the trenches were 




made each was filled with fire, though how it was kindled or fed, by art or 
devilry, none could see. All day the labour went forward, while the men of 
Minas Tirith looked on, unable to hinder it. And as each length of trench 
was completed, they could see great wains approaching; and soon yet more 
companies of the enemy were swiftly setting up, each behind the cover of a 
trench, great engines for the casting of missiles. There were none upon the 
City walls large enough to reach so far or to stay the work. 

At first men laughed and did not greatly fear such devices. For the 
main wall of the City was of great height and marvellous thickness, built 
ere the power and craft of N®menor waned in exile; and its outward face was 
like to the Tower of Orthanc, hard and dark and smooth, unconquerable by 
steel or fire, unbreakable except by some convulsion that would rend the 
very earth on which it stood. 

'Nay,' they said, 'not if the Nameless One himself should come, not 
even he could enter here while we yet live.' But some answered: 'While we 
yet live? How long? He has a weapon that has brought low many strong places 
since the world began. Hunger. The roads are cut. Rohan will not come.' 

But the engines did not waste shot upon the indomitable wall. It was no 
brigand or ore-chieftain that ordered the assault upon the Lord of Mordor's 
greatest foe. A power and mind of malice guided it. As soon as the great 
catapults were set, with many yells and the creaking of rope and winch, they 
began to throw missiles marvellously high, so that they passed right above 
the battlement and fell thudding within the first circle of the City; and 
many of them by some secret art burst into flame as they came toppling down. 

Soon there was great peril of fire behind the wall, and all who could 
be spared were busy quelling the flames that sprang up in many places. Then 
among the greater casts there fell another hail, less ruinous but more 
horrible. All about the streets and lanes behind the Gate it tumbled down, 
small round shot that did not burn. But when men ran to learn what it might 
be, they cried aloud or wept. For the enemy was flinging into the City all 
the heads of those who had fallen fighting at Osgiliath, or on the Rammas, 
or in the fields. They were grim to look on; for though some were crushed 
and shapeless, and some had been cruelly hewn, yet many had features that 
could be told, and it seemed that they had died in pain; and all were 
branded with the foul token of the Lidless Eye. But marred and dishonoured 
as they were, it often chanced that thus a man would see again the face of 
someone that he had known, who had walked proudly once in arms, or tilled 




the fields, or ridden in upon a holiday from the green vales in the hills. 

In vain men shook their fists at the pitiless foes that swarmed before 
the Gate. Curses they heeded not, nor understood the tongues of western men; 
crying with harsh voices like beasts and carrion-birds. But soon there were 
few left in Minas Tirith who had the heart to stand up and defy the hosts of 
Mordor. For yet another weapon, swifter than hunger, the Lord of the Dark 
Tower had: dread and despair. 

The Nazgyl came again, and as their Dark Lord now grew and put forth 
his strength, so their voices, which uttered only his will and his malice, 
were filled with evil and horror. Ever they circled above the City, like 
vultures that expect their fill of doomed men’s flesh. Out of sight and shot 
they flew, and yet were ever present, and their deadly voices rent the air. 

More unbearable they became, not less, at each new cry. At length even the 
stout-hearted would fling themselves to the ground as the hidden menace 
passed over them, or they would stand, letting their weapons fall from 
nerveless hands while into their minds a blackness came, and they thought no 
more of war, but only of hiding and of crawling, and of death. 

During all this black day Faramir lay upon his bed in the chamber of 
the White Tower, wandering in a desperate fever; dying someone said, and 
soon ’dying’ all men were saying upon the walls and in the streets. And by 
him his father sat, and said nothing, but watched, and gave no longer any 
heed to the defence. 

No hours so dark had Pippin known, not even in the clutches of the 
Uruk-hai. It was his duty to wait upon the Lord, and wait he did, forgotten 
it seemed, standing by the door of the unlit chamber, mastering his own 
fears as best he could. And as he watched, it seemed to him that Denethor 
grew old before his eyes, as if something had snapped in his proud will, and 
his stern mind was overthrown. Grief maybe had wrought it, and remorse. He 
saw tears on that once tearless face, more unbearable than wrath. 

'Do not weep, lord,’ he stammered. ’Perhaps he will get well. Have you 
asked Gandalf?' 

'Comfort me not with wizards!' said Denethor. 'The fool's hope has 
failed. The Enemy has found it, and now his power waxes; he sees our very 
thoughts, and all we do is ruinous. 

'I sent my son forth, unthanked, unblessed, out into needless peril, 
and here he lies with poison in his veins. Nay, nay, whatever may now betide 
in war, my line too is ending, even the House of the Stewards has failed. 




Mean folk shall rule the last remnant of the Kings of Men, lurking in the 
hills until all are hounded out.' 

Men came to the door crying for the Lord of the City. 'Nay, I will not 
come down,' he said. 'I must stay beside my son. He might still speak before 
the end. But that is near. Follow whom you will, even the Grey Fool, though 
his hope has failed. Here I stay.' 

So it was that Gandalf took command of the last defence of the City of 
Gondor. Wherever he came men's hearts would lift again, and the winged 
shadows pass from memory. Tirelessly he strode from Citadel to Gate, from 
north to south about the wall; and with him went the Prince of Dol Amroth in 
his shining mail. For he and his knights still held themselves like lords in 
whom the race ofN®menor ran true. Men that saw them whispered saying: 
'Belike the old tales speak well; there is Elvish blood in the veins of that 
folk, for the people of Nimrodel dwelt in that land once long ago.' And then 
one would sing amid the gloom some staves of the Lay of Nimrodel, or other 
songs of the Vale of Anduin out of vanished years. 

And yet - when they had gone, the shadows closed on men again, and 
their hearts went cold, and the valour of Gondor withered into ash. And so 
slowly they passed out of a dim day of fears into the darkness of a 
desperate night. Fires now raged unchecked in the first circle of the City, 
and the garrison upon the outer wall was already in many places cut off from 
retreat. But the faithful who remained there at their posts were few; most 
had fled beyond the second gate. 

Far behind the battle the River had been swiftly bridged, and all day 
more force and gear of war had poured across. Now at last in the middle 
night the assault was loosed. The vanguard passed through the trenches of 
fire by many devious paths that had been left between them. On they came, 
reckless of their loss as they approached, still bunched and herded, within 
the range of bowmen on the wall. But indeed there were too few now left 
there to do them great damage, though the light of the fires showed up many 
a mark for archers of such skill as Gondor once had boasted. Then perceiving 
that the valour of the City was already beaten down, the hidden Captain put 
forth his strength. Slowly the great siege-towers built in Osgiliath rolled 
forward through the dark. 

Messengers came again to the chamber in the White Tower, and Pippin let 
them enter, for they were urgent. Denethor turned his head slowly from 
Faramir's face, and looked at them silently. 




'The first circle of the City is burning, lord,' they said. ’What are 
your commands? You are still the Lord and Steward. Not all will follow 
Mithrandir. Men are flying from the walls and leaving them unmanned.' 

'Why? Why do the fools fly?' said Denethor. 'Better to burn sooner than 
late, for burn we must. Go back to your bonfire! And I? I will go now to my 
pyre. To my pyre! No tomb for Denethor and Faramir. No tomb! No long 
slow 

sleep of death embalmed. We will burn like heathen kings before ever a ship 
sailed hither from the West. The West has failed. Go back and burn!' 

The messengers without bow or answer turned and fled. 

Now Denethor stood up and released the fevered hand of Faramir that he 
had held. 'Fie is burning, already burning,' he said sadly. 'The house of his 
spirit crumbles.' Then stepping softly towards Pippin he looked down at him. 

'Farewell!' he said. 'Farewell, Peregrin son of Paladin! Your service 
has been short, and now it is drawing to an end. I release you from the 
little that remains. Go now, and die in what way seems best to you. And with 
whom you will, even that friend whose folly brought you to this death. Send 
for my servants and then go. Farewell!' 

'I will not say farewell, my lord,' said Pippin kneeling. And then 
suddenly hobbit-like once more, he stood up and looked the old man in the 
eyes. 'I will take your leave, sir,' he said; 'for I want to see Gandalf 
very much indeed. But he is no fool; and I will not think of dying until he 
despairs of life. But from my word and your service I do not wish to be 
released while you live. And if they come at last to the Citadel, I hope to 
be here and stand beside you and earn perhaps the arms that you have given 
me.' 

'Do as you will, Master Halfling,' said Denethor. 'But my life is 
broken. Send for my servants!' He turned back to Faramir. 

Pippin left him and called for the servants, and they came: six men of 
the household, strong and fair; yet they trembled at the summons. But in a 
quiet voice Denethor bade them lay warm coverlets on Faramir's bed and take 
it up. And they did so, and lifting up the bed they bore it from the 
chamber. Slowly they paced to trouble the fevered man as little as might be, 
and Denethor, now bending on a staff, followed them; and last came Pippin. 

Out from the White Tower they walked, as if to a funeral, out into the 
darkness, where the overhanging cloud was lit beneath with flickers of dull 
red. Softly they paced the great courtyard, and at a word from Denethor 




halted beside the Withered Tree. 

All was silent, save for the rumour of war in the City down below, and 
they heard the water dripping sadly from the dead branches into the dark 
pool. Then they went on through the Citadel gate, where the sentinel stared 
at them in wonder and dismay as they passed by. Turning westward they came 
at length to a door in the rearward wall of the sixth circle. Fen Hollen it 
was called, for it was kept ever shut save at times of funeral, and only the 
Lord of the City might use that way, or those who bore the token of the 
tombs and tended the houses of the dead. Beyond it went a winding road that 
descended in many curves down to the narrow land under the shadow of 
Mindolluin's precipice where stood the mansions of the dead Kings and of 
their Stewards. 

A porter sat in a little house beside the way, and with fear in his 
eyes he came forth bearing a lantern in his hand. At the Lord's command he 
unlocked the door, and silently it swung back; and they passed through, 
taking the lantern from his hand. It was dark on the climbing road between 
ancient walls and many -pillared balusters looming in the swaying 
lantern-beam. Their slow feet echoed as they walked down, down, until at 
last they came to the Silent Street, Rath Dnnen, between pale domes and 
empty halls and images of men long dead; and they entered into the House of 
the Stewards and set down their burden. 

There Pippin, staring uneasily about him, saw that he was in a wide 
vaulted chamber, draped as it were with the great shadows that the little 
lantern threw upon its shrouded walls. And dimly to be seen were many rows 
of tables, carved of marble; and upon each table lay a sleeping form, hands 
folded, head pillowed upon stone. But one table near at hand stood broad and 
bare. Upon it at a sign from Denethor they laid Faramir and his father side 
by side, and covered them with one covering, and stood then with bowed heads 
as mourners beside a bed of death. Then Denethor spoke in a low voice. 

'Here we will wait,' he said. 'But send not for the embalmers. Bring us 
wood quick to burn, and lay it all about us, and beneath; and pour oil upon 
it. And when I bid you thrust in a torch. Do this and speak no more to me. 
Farewell!' 

'By your leave, lord!' said Pippin and turned and fled in terror from 
the deathly house. 'Poor Faramir!' he thought. 'I must find Gandalf. Poor 
Faramir! Quite likely he needs medicine more than tears. Oh, where can I 
find Gandalf? In the thick of things, I suppose; and he will have no time to 




spare for dying men or madmen.' 

At the door he turned to one of the servants who had remained on guard 
there. 'Your master is not himself,' he said. 'Go slow! Bring no fire to 
this place while Faramir lives! Do nothing until Gandalf comes!' 

'Who is the master of Minas Tirith?' the man answered. 'The Lord 
Denethor or the Grey Wanderer?' 

'The Grey Wanderer or no one, it would seem,' said Pippin, and he sped 
back and up the winding way as swiftly as his feet would carry him, past the 
astonished porter, out through the door, and on, till he came near the gate 
of the Citadel. The sentinel hailed him as he went by, and he recognized the 
voice of Beregond. 

'Whither do you run, Master Peregrin?' he cried. 

'To find Mithrandir,' Pippin answered. 

'The Lord's errands are urgent and should not be hindered by me,' said 
Beregond; 'but tell me quickly, if you may: what goes forward? Whither has 
my Lord gone? I have just come on duty, but I heard that he passed towards 
the Closed Door, and men were bearing Faramir before him.' 

'Yes,' said Pippin, 'to the Silent Street.' 

Beregond bowed his head to hide his tears. 'They said that he was 
dying,' he sighed, 'and now he is dead.' 

'No,' said Pippin, 'not yet. And even now his death might be prevented, 

I think. But the Lord of the City, Beregond, has fallen before his city is 
taken. Fie is fey and dangerous.' Quickly he told of Denethor's strange words 
and deeds. 'I must find Gandalf at once.' 

'Then you must go down to the battle.' 

'I know. The Lord has given me leave. But, Beregond, if you can, do 
something to stop any dreadful thing happening.' 

'The Lord does not permit those who wear the black and silver to leave 
their post for any cause, save at his own command.' 

'Well, you must choose between orders and the life of Faramir,' said 
Pippin. 'And as for orders, I think you have a madman to deal with, not a 
lord. I must run. I will return if I can.' 

He ran on, down, down towards the outer city. Men flying back from the 
burning passed him, and some seeing his livery turned and shouted, but he 
paid no heed. At last he was through the Second Gate, beyond which great 
fires leaped up between the walls. Yet it seemed strangely silent. No noise 
or shouts of battle or din of arms could be heard. Then suddenly there was a 




dreadful cry and a great shock, and a deep echoing boom. Forcing himself on 
against a gust of fear and horror that shook him almost to his knees. Pippin 
turned a corner opening on the wide place behind the City Gate. He stopped 
dead. He had found Gandalf; but he shrank back, cowering into a shadow. 

Ever since the middle night the great assault had gone on. The drums 
rolled. To the north and to the south company upon company of the enemy 
pressed to the walls. There came great beasts, like moving houses in the red 
and fitful light, the mymakil of the Harad dragging through the lanes amid 
the fires huge towers and engines. Yet their Captain cared not greatly what 
they did or how many might be slain: their purpose was only to test the 
strength of the defence and to keep the men of Gondor busy in many places. 
It was against the Gate that he would throw his heaviest weight. Very strong 
it might be, wrought of steel and iron, and guarded with towers and bastions 
of indomitable stone, yet it was the key, the weakest point in all that high 
and impenetrable wall. 

The drums rolled louder. Fires leaped up. Great engines crawled across 
the field; and in the midst was a huge ram, great as a forest-tree a hundred 
feet in length, swinging on mighty chains. Long had it been forging in the 
dark smithies of Mordor, and its hideous head, founded of black steel, was 
shaped in the likeness of a ravening wolf; on it spells of ruin lay. Grond 
they named it, in memory of the Hammer of the Underworld of old. Great 
beasts drew it, Ores surrounded it, and behind walked mountain -trolls to 
wield it. 

But about the Gate resistance still was stout, and there the knights of 
Dol Amroth and the hardiest of the garrison stood at bay. Shot and dart fell 
thick; siege-towers crashed or blazed suddenly like torches. All before the 
walls on either side of the Gate the ground was choked with wreck and with 
bodies of the slain; yet still driven as by a madness more and more came up. 

Grond crawled on. Upon its housing no fire would catch; and though now 
and again some great beast that hauled it would go mad and spread stamping 
ruin among the ores innumerable that guarded it, their bodies were cast 
aside from its path and others took their place. 

Grond crawled on. The drums rolled wildly. Over the hills of slain a 
hideous shape appeared: a horseman, tall, hooded, cloaked in black. Slowly, 
trampling the fallen, he rode forth, heeding no longer any dart. He halted 
and held up a long pale sword. And as he did so a great fear fell on all, 
defender and foe alike; and the hands of men drooped to their sides, and no 




bow sang. For a moment all was still. 

The drums rolled and rattled. With a vast rush Grond was hurled forward 
by huge hands. It reached the Gate. It swung. A deep boom rumbled through 
the City like thunder running in the clouds. But the doors of iron and posts 
of steel withstood the stroke. 

Then the Black Captain rose in his stirrups and cried aloud in a 
dreadful voice, speaking in some forgotten tongue words of power and terror 
to rend both heart and stone. 

Thrice he cried. Thrice the great ram boomed. And suddenly upon the 
last stroke the Gate of Gondor broke. As if stricken by some blasting spell 
it burst asunder: there was a flash of searing lightning, and the doors 
tumbled in riven fragments to the ground. 

In rode the Lord of the Nazgyl. A great black shape against the fires 
beyond he loomed up, grown to a vast menace of despair. In rode the Lord of 
the Nazgyl, under the archway that no enemy ever yet had passed, and all 
fled before his face. 

All save one. There waiting, silent and still in the space before the 
Gate, sat Gandalf upon Shadowfax: Shadowfax who alone among the free 
horses 

of the earth endured the terror, unmoving, steadfast as a graven image in 
Rath Dnnen. 

'You cannot enter here,' said Gandalf, and the huge shadow halted. ’Go 
back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into the nothingness that 
awaits you and your Master. Go!’ 

The Black Rider flung back his hood, and behold! he had a kingly crown; 
and yet upon no head visible was it set. The red fires shone between it and 
the mantled shoulders vast and dark. From a mouth unseen there came a deadly 
laughter. 

’Old fool!’ he said. ’Old fool! This is my hour. Do you not know Death 
when you see it? Die now and curse in vain!’ And with that he lifted high 
his sword and flames ran down the blade. 

Gandalf did not move. And in that very moment, away behind in some 
courtyard of the City, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, recking 
nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far 
above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn. 

And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, 
horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin's sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of 




the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last. 




Chapter 5 . The Ride of the Rohirrim 



It was dark and Merry could see nothing as he lay on the ground rolled 
in a blanket; yet though the night was airless and windless, all about him 
hidden trees were sighing softly. He lifted his head. Then he heard it 
again: a sound like faint drums in the wooded hills and mountain -steps. The 
throb would cease suddenly and then be taken up again at some other point, 
now nearer, now further off. He wondered if the watchmen had heard it. 

He could not see them, but he knew that all round him were the 
companies of the Rohirrim. He could smell the horses in the dark, and could 
hear their shiftings and their soft stamping on the needle-covered ground. 

The host was bivouacked in the pine-woods that clustered about Eilenach 
Beacon, a tall hill standing up from the long ridges of the Dr®adan Forest 
that lay beside the great road in East Anurien. 

Tired as he was Merry could not sleep. He had ridden now for four days 
on end, and the ever -deepening gloom had slowly weighed down his heart. He 
began to wonder why he had been so eager to come, when he had been given 
every excuse, even his lord's command, to stay behind. He wondered, too, if 
the old King knew that he had been disobeyed and was angry. Perhaps not. 
There seemed to be some understanding between Dernhelm and Elfhelm, 
the 

Marshal who commanded the jored in which they were riding. He and all his 
men ignored Merry and pretended not to hear if he spoke. He might have been 
just another bag that Dernhelm was carrying. Dernhelm was no comfort: he 
never spoke to anyone. Merry felt small, unwanted, and lonely. Now the time 
was anxious, and the host was in peril. They were less than a day's ride 
from the out- walls of Minas Tirith that encircled the townlands. Scouts had 
been sent ahead. Some had not returned. Others hastening back had reported 
that the road was held in force against them. A host of the enemy was 
encamped upon it, three miles west of Amon Don, and some strength of men 
was 

already thrusting along the road and was no more than three leagues away. 
Ores were roving in the hills and woods along the roadside. The king and 
Jomer held council in the watches of the night. 

Merry wanted somebody to talk to, and he thought of Pippin. But that 




only increased his restlessness. Poor Pippin, shut up in the great city of 
stone, lonely and afraid. Merry wished he was a tall Rider like Jomer and 
could blow a horn or something and go galloping to his rescue. He sat up, 
listening to the drums that were beating again, now nearer at hand. 
Presently he heard voices speaking low, and he saw dim half-shrouded 
lanterns passing through the trees. Men nearby began to move uncertainly in 
the dark. 

A tall figure loomed up and stumbled over him, cursing the tree-roots. 

He recognized the voice of the Marshal, Elfhelm. 

'I am not a tree-root, Sir,' he said, 'nor a bag, but a bruised hobbit. 

The least you can do in amends is to tell me what is afoot.' 

'Anything that can keep so in this devil's mirk,' answered Elfhelm. 

'But my lord sends word that we must set ourselves in readiness: orders may 
come for a sudden move.' 

'Is the enemy coming then?' asked Merry anxiously. 'Are those their 
drums? I began to think I was imagining them, as no one else seemed to take 
any notice of them.' 

'Nay, nay,' said Elfhelm, 'the enemy is on the road not in the hills. 

You hear the Woses, the Wild Men of the Woods: thus they talk together from 
afar. They still haunt Dr®adan Forest, it is said. Remnants of an older time 
they be, living few and secretly, wild and wary as the beasts. They go not 
to war with Gondor or the Mark; but now they are troubled by the darkness 
and the coming of the ores: they fear lest the Dark Years be returning, as 
seems likely enough. Let us be thankful that they are not hunting us: for 
they use poisoned arrows, it is said, and they are woodcrafty beyond 
compare. But they have offered their services to Thjoden. Even now one of 
their headmen is being taken to the king. Yonder go the lights. So much I 
have heard but no more. And now I must busy myself with my lord's 
commands. 

Pack yourself up, Master Bag!' He vanished into the shadows. 

Merry did not like this talk of wild men and poisoned darts, but quite 
apart from that a great weight of dread was on him. Waiting was unbearable. 
He longed to know what was going to happen. He got up and soon was 
walking 

warily in pursuit of the last lantern before it disappeared among the trees. 

Presently he came to an open space where a small tent had been set up 
for the king under a great tree. A large lantern, covered above, was hanging 




from a bough and cast a pale circle of light below. There sat Thjoden and 
Jomer, and before them on the ground sat a strange squat shape of a man, 
gnarled as an old stone, and the hairs of his scanty beard straggled on his 
lumpy chin like dry moss. He was short -legged and fat-armed, thick and 
stumpy, and clad only with grass about his waist. Merry felt that he had 
seen him before somewhere, and suddenly he remembered the P®kel-men 
of 

Dunharrow. Here was one of those old images brought to life, or maybe a 
creature descended in true line through endless years from the models used 
by the forgotten craftsmen long ago. 

There was a silence as Merry crept nearer, and then the Wild Man began 
to speak, in answer to some question, it seemed. His voice was deep and 
guttural, yet to Merry's surprise he spoke the Common Speech, though in a 
halting fashion, and uncouth words were mingled with it. 

’No, father of Horse-men,' he said, 'we fight not. Hunt only. Kill 
gorgyn in woods, hate ore-folk. You hate gorgyn too. We help as we can. Wild 
Men have long ears and long eyes; know all paths. Wild Men live here before 
Stone-houses; before Tall Men come up out of Water.' 

'But our need is for aid in battle,' said Jomer. 'How will you and your 
folk help us?' 

'Bring news,' said the Wild Man. 'We look out from hills. We climb big 
mountain and look down. Stone-city is shut. Fire burns there outside; now 
inside too. You wish to come there? Then you must be quick. But gorgyn and 
men out of far-away,' he waved a short gnarled arm eastward, 'sit on 
horse-road. Very many, more than Horse-men.' 

'How do you know that?' said Jomer. 

The old man's flat face and dark eyes showed nothing, but his voice was 
sullen with displeasure. 'Wild men are wild, free, but not children,' he 
answered. 'I am great headman, Ghvn-buri-Ghvn. I count many things: stars in 
sky, leaves on trees, men in the dark. You have a score of scores counted 
ten times and five. They have more. Big fight, and who will win? And many 
more walk round walls of Stone-houses.' 

'Alas! he speaks all too shrewdly,' said Thjoden. 'And our scouts say 
that they have cast trenches and stakes across the road. We cannot sweep 
them away in sudden onset.' 

'And yet we need great haste,' said Jomer. 'Mundburg is on fire!' 

'Let Ghvn-buri-Ghvn finish!' said the Wild Man. 'More than one road he 




knows. He will lead you by road where no pits are, no gorgyn walk, only Wild 
Men and beasts. Many paths were made when Stonehouse-folk were 
stronger. 

They carved hills as hunters carve beast-flesh. Wild Men think they ate 
stone for food. They went through Dr®adan to Rimmon with great wains. 
They 

go no longer. Road is forgotten, but not by Wild Men. Over hill and behind 
hill it lies still under grass and tree, there behind Rimmon and down to 
Don, and back at the end to Horse-men's road. Wild Men will show you that 
road. Then you will kill gorgyn and drive away bad dark with bright iron, 
and Wild Men can go back to sleep in the wild woods.' 

Jomer and the king spoke together in their own tongue. At length 
Thjoden turned to the Wild Man. 'We will receive your offer,' he said. 'For 
though we leave a host of foes behind, what matter? If the Stone-city falls, 
then we shall have no returning. If it is saved, then the ore-host itself 
will be cut off. If you are faithful, Ghvn-buri-Ghvn, then we will give you 
rich reward, and you shall have the friendship of the Mark for ever.' 

'Dead men are not friends to living men, and give them no gifts,' said 
the Wild Man. 'But if you live after the Darkness, then leave Wild Men alone 
in the woods and do not hunt them like beasts any more. Ghvn-buri-Ghvn will 
not lead you into trap. He will go himself with father of Horse-men, and if 
he leads you wrong, you will kill him.' 

'So be it!' said Thjoden. 

'How long will it take to pass by the enemy and come back to the road?' 
asked Jomer. 'We must go at foot-pace, if you guide us; and I doubt not the 
way is narrow.' 

'Wild Men go quick on feet,' said Ghvn. 'Way is wide for four horses in 
Stonewain Valley yonder,' he waved his hand southwards; 'but narrow at 
beginning and at end. Wild Man could walk from here to Don between sunrise 
and noon.' 

'Then we must allow at least seven hours for the leaders,' said Jomer; 

'but we must reckon rather on some ten hours for all. Things unforeseen may 
hinder us, and if our host is all strung out, it will be long ere it can be 
set in order when we issue from the hills. What is the hour now?' 

'Who knows?' said Thjoden. 'All is night now.' 

'It is all dark, but it is not all night.' said Ghvn. 'When Sun comes 
we feel her, even when she is hidden. Already she climbs over 




East -mountains. It is the opening of day in the sky-fields.' 

'Then we must set out as soon as may be,' said Jomer. 'Even so we 
cannot hope to come to Gondor's aid today.' 

Merry waited to hear no more, but slipped away to get ready for the 
summons to the march. This was the last stage before the battle. It did not 
seem likely to him that many of them would survive it. But he thought of 
Pippin and the flames in Minas Tirith and thrust down his own dread. 

All went well that day, and no sight or sound had they of the enemy 
waiting to waylay them. The Wild Men had put out a screen of wary hunters, 
so that no ore or roving spy should learn of the movements in the hills. The 
light was more dim than ever as they drew nearer to the beleaguered city, 
and the Riders passed in long files like dark shadows of men and horses. 
Each company was guided by a wild woodman; but old Ghvn walked beside 
the 

king. The start had been slower than was hoped, for it had taken time for 
the Riders, walking and leading their horses, to find paths over the thickly 
wooded ridges behind their camp and down into the hidden Stonewain Valley. 
It was late in the afternoon when the leaders came to wide grey thickets 
stretching beyond the eastward side of Amon Don, and masking a great gap in 
the line of hills that from Nardol to Don ran east and west. Through the gap 
the forgotten wain-road long ago had run down, back into the main horse-way 
from the City through Anurien; but now for many lives of men trees had had 
their way with it, and it had vanished, broken and buried under the leaves 
of uncounted years. But the thickets offered to the Riders their last hope 
of cover before they went into open battle; for beyond them lay the road and 
the plains of Anduin, while east and southwards the slopes were bare and 
rocky, as the writhen hills gathered themselves together and climbed up, 
bastion upon bastion, into the great mass and shoulders of Mindolluin. 

The leading company was halted, and as those behind filed up out of the 
trough of the Stonewain Valley they spread out and passed to camping -places 
under the grey trees. The king summoned the captains to council. Jomer sent 
out scouts to spy upon the road; but old Ghvn shook his head. 

'No good to send Horse-men,' he said. 'Wild Men have already seen all 
that can be seen in the bad air. They will come soon and speak to me here.' 

The captains came; and then out of the trees crept warily other 
p®kel-shapes so like old Ghvn that Merry could hardly tell them apart. They 
spoke to Ghvn in a strange throaty language. 




Presently Ghvn turned to the king. 'Wild Men say many things ' he said. 
'First, be wary! Still many men in camp beyond Don, an hour's walk yonder,' 
he waved his arm west towards the black beacon. 'But none to see between 
here and Stone-folk's new walls. Many busy there. Walls stand up no longer: 
gorgyn knock them down with earth-thunder and with clubs of black iron. They 
are unwary and do not look about them. They think their friends watch all 
roads!' At that old Ghvn made a curious gurgling noise, and it seemed that 
he was laughing. 

'Good tidings!' cried Jomer. 'Even in this gloom hope gleams again. Our 
Enemy's devices oft serve us in his despite. The accursed darkness itself 
has been a cloak to us. And now, lusting to destroy Gondor and throw it down 
stone from stone, his ores have taken away my greatest fear. The out-wall 
could have been held long against us. Now we can sweep through - if once we 
win so far.' 

'Once again I thank you, Ghvn-buri-Ghvn of the woods,' said Thjoden. 
'Good fortune go with you for tidings and for guidance!' 

'Kill gorgynl Kill ore-folk! No other words please Wild Men ' answered 
Ghvn. 'Drive away bad air and darkness with bright iron!' 

'To do these things we have ridden far,' said the king, 'and we shall 
attempt them. But what we shall achieve only tomorrow will show.' 

Ghvn-buri-Ghvn squatted down and touched the earth with his horny brow 
in token of farewell. Then he got up as if to depart. But suddenly he stood 
looking up like some startled woodland animal snuffling a strange air. A 
light came in his eyes. 

'Wind is changing!' he cried, and with that, in a twinkling as it 
seemed, he and his fellows had vanished into the glooms, never to be seen by 
any Rider of Rohan again. Not long after far away eastward the faint drums 
throbbed again. Yet to no heart in all the host came any fear that the Wild 
Men were unfaithful, strange and unlovely though they might appear. 

'We need no further guidance,' said Elfhelm; 'for there are riders in 
the host who have ridden down to Mundburg in days of peace. I for one. When 
we come to the road it will veer south, and there will lie before us still 
seven leagues ere we reach the wall of the townlands. Along most of that way 
there is much grass on either side of the road. On that stretch the 
errand-riders of Gondor reckoned to make their greatest speed. We may ride 
it swiftly and without great rumour.' 

'Then since we must look for fell deeds and the need of all our 




strength,' said Jomer, 'I counsel that we rest now, and set out hence by 
night, and so time our going that we come upon the fields when tomorrow is 
as light as it will be, or when our lord gives the signal.' 

To this the king assented, and the captains departed. But soon Elfhelm 
returned. 'The scouts have found naught to report beyond the grey wood, 
lord,' he said, 'save two men only: two dead men and two dead horses.' 

'Well?' said Jomer. 'What of it?' 

'This, lord: they were errand-riders of Gondor; Hirgon was one maybe. 

At least his hand still clasped the Red Arrow, but his head was hewn off. 

And this also: it would seem by the signs that they were fleeing westward 
when they fell. As I read it, they found the enemy already on the out-wall, 
or assailing it, when they returned - and that would be two nights ago, if 
they used fresh horses from the posts, as is their wont. They could not 
reach the City and turned back.' 

'Alas!' said Thjoden. 'Then Denethor has heard no news of our riding 
and will despair of our coming.' 

'Need brooks no delay, yet late is better than never,' said Jomer. 'And 
mayhap in this time shall the old saw be proved truer than ever before since 
men spoke with mouth.' 

It was night. On either side of the road the host of Rohan was moving 
silently. Now the road passing about the skirts of Mindolluin turned 
southward. Far away and almost straight ahead there was a red glow under the 
black sky and the sides of the great mountain loomed dark against it. They 
were drawing near the Rammas of the Pelennor; but the day was not yet come. 

The king rode in the midst of the leading company, his household-men 
about him. Elfhelm's jored came next; and now Merry noticed that Dernhelm 
had left his place and in the darkness was moving steadily forward, until at 
last he was riding just in rear of the king's guard. There came a check. 

Merry heard voices in front speaking softly. Out-riders had come back who 
had ventured forward almost to the wall. They came to the king. 

'There are great fires, lord,' said one. 'The City is all set about 
with flame, and the field is full of foes. But all seem drawn off to the 
assault. As well as we could guess, there are few left upon the out-wall, 
and they are heedless, busy in destruction.' 

'Do you remember the Wild Man's words, lord?' said another. 'I live 
upon the open Wold in days of peace; Wndfara is my name, and to me also the 
air brings messages. Already the wind is turning. There comes a breath out 




of the South; there is a sea -tang in it, faint though it be. The morning 
will bring new things. Above the reek it will be dawn when you pass the 
wall.' 

'If you speak truly, Wndfara, then may you live beyond this day in 
years of blessedness!' said Thjoden. He turned to the men of his household 
who were near, and he spoke now in a clear voice so that many also of the 
riders of the first jored heard him: 

'Now is the hour come, Riders of the Mark, sons of Eorl! Foes and fire 
are before you, and your homes far behind. Yet, though you fight upon an 
alien field, the glory that you reap there shall be your own for ever. Oaths 
ye have taken: now fulfil them all, to lord and land and league of 
friendship!' 

Men clashed spear upon shield. 

'Jomer, my son! You lead the first jored' said Thjoden; 'and it shall 
go behind the king's banner in the centre. Elfhelm, lead your company to the 
right when we pass the wall. And Grimbold shall lead his towards the left. 
Let the other companies behind follow these three that lead, as they have 
chance. Strike wherever the enemy gathers. Other plans we cannot make, for 
we know not yet how things stand upon the field. Forth now, and fear no 
darkness!' 

The leading company rode off as swiftly as they could, for it was still 
deep dark, whatever change Wndfara might forebode. Merry was riding 
behind 

Dernhelm, clutching with the left hand while with the other he tried to 
loosen his sword in its sheath. He felt now bitterly the truth of the old 
king's words: in such a battle what would you do Meriadoc? Just this,' he 
thought: 'encumber a rider, and hope at best to stay in my seat and not be 
pounded to death by galloping hoofs!' 

It was no more than a league to where the out-walls had stood. They 
soon reached them; too soon for Merry. Wild cries broke out, and there was 
some clash of arms, but it was brief. The ores busy about the walls were few 
and amazed, and they were quickly slain or driven off. Before the ruin of 
the north-gate in the Rammas the king halted again. The first jored drew up 
behind him and about him on either side. Dernhelm kept close to the king, 
though Elfhelm's company was away on the right. Grimbold's men turned 
aside 

and passed round to a great gap in the wall further eastward. 




Merry peered from behind Dernhelm's back. Far away, maybe ten miles or 
more, there was a great burning, but between it and the Riders lines of fire 
blazed in a vast crescent, at the nearest point less than a league distant. 

He could make out little more on the dark plain, and as yet he neither saw 
any hope of morning, nor felt any wind, changed or unchanged. 

Now silently the host of Rohan moved forward into the field of Gondor, 
pouring in slowly but steadily, like the rising tide through breaches in a 
dike that men have thought secure. But the mind and will of the Black 
Captain were bent wholly on the falling city, and as yet no tidings came to 
him warning that his designs held any flaw. 

After a while the king led his men away somewhat eastward, to come 
between the fires of the siege and the outer fields. Still they were 
unchallenged, and still Thjoden gave no signal. At last he halted once 
again. The City was now nearer. A smell of burning was in the air and a very 
shadow of death. The horses were uneasy. But the king sat upon Snowmane, 
motionless, gazing upon the agony of Minas Tirith, as if stricken suddenly 
by anguish, or by dread. He seemed to shrink down, cowed by age. Merry 
himself felt as if a great weight of horror and doubt had settled on him. 

His heart beat slowly. Time seemed poised in uncertainty. They were too 
late! Too late was worse than never! Perhaps Thjoden would quail, bow his 
old head, turn, slink away to hide in the hills. 

Then suddenly Merry felt it at last, beyond doubt: a change. Wind was 
in his face! Light was glimmering. Far, far away, in the South the clouds 
could be dimly seen as remote grey shapes, rolling up, drifting: morning lay 
beyond them. 

But at that same moment there was a flash, as if lightning had sprung 
from the earth beneath the City. For a searing second it stood dazzling far 
off in black and white, its topmost tower like a glittering needle: and then 
as the darkness closed again there came rolling over the fields a great 
boom. 

At that sound the bent shape of the king sprang suddenly erect. Tall 
and proud he seemed again; and rising in his stirrups he cried in a loud 
voice, more clear than any there had ever heard a mortal man achieve before: 
Arise, arise, Riders of Thjoden! 

Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter! 
spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered, 
a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises! 




Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor! 

With that he seized a great horn from Guthlbf his banner-bearer, and he 
blew such a blast upon it that it burst asunder. And straightway all the 
horns in the host were lifted up in music, and the blowing of the horns of 
Rohan in that hour was like a storm upon the plain and a thunder in the 
mountains. 

Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor! 

Suddenly the king cried to Snowmane and the horse sprang away. Behind 
him his banner blew in the wind, white horse upon a field of green, but he 
outpaced it. After him thundered the knights of his house, but he was ever 
before them. Jomer rode there, the white horsetail on his helm floating in 
his speed, and the front of the first jored roared like a breaker foaming to 
the shore, but Thjoden could not be overtaken. Fey he seemed, or the 
battle-fury of his fathers ran like new tire in his veins, and he was borne 
up on Snowmane like a god of old, even as Oroml the Great in the battle of 
the Valar when the world was young. His golden shield was uncovered, and lo 
it shone like an image of the Sun, and the grass flamed into green about the 
white feet of his steed. For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; 
and the darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror 
took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them. 
And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, 
for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was 
fair and terrible came even to the City. 




Chapter 6 . The Battle of the Pelennor 
Fields 

But it was no orc-chieftain or brigand that led the assault upon 
Gondor. The darkness was breaking too soon, before the date that his Master 
had set for it: fortune had betrayed him for the moment, and the world had 
turned against him; victory was slipping from his grasp even as he stretched 
out his hand to seize it. But his arm was long. He was still in command, 
wielding great powers. King, Ringwraith, Lord of the Nazgyl, he had many 
weapons. He left the Gate and vanished. 

Thjoden King of the Mark had reached the road from the Gate to the 
River, and he turned towards the City that was now less than a mile distant. 

He slackened his speed a little, seeking new foes, and his knights came 
about him, and Dernhelm was with them. Ahead nearer the walls Elfhelm's 
men 

were among the siege-engines, hewing, slaying, driving their foes into the 
fire-pits. Well nigh all the northern half of the Pelennor was overrun, and 
there camps were blazing, ores were flying towards the River like herds 
before the hunters; and the Rohirrim went hither and thither at their will. 

But they had not yet overthrown the siege, nor won the Gate. Many foes stood 
before it, and on the further half of the plain were other hosts still 
unfought. Southward beyond the road lay the main force of the Haradrim, and 
there their horsemen were gathered about the standard of their chieftain. 

And he looked out, and in the growing light he saw the banner of the king, 
and that it was far ahead of the battle with few men about it. Then he was 
filled with a red wrath and shouted aloud, and displaying his standard, 
black serpent upon scarlet, he came against the white horse and the green 
with great press of men; and the drawing of the scimitars of the Southrons 
was like a glitter of stars. 

Then Thjoden was aware of him, and would not wait for his onset, but 
crying to Snowmane he charged headlong to greet him. Great was the clash of 
their meeting. But the white fury of the Northmen burned the hotter, and 
more skilled was their knighthood with long spears and bitter. Fewer were 
they but they clove through the Southrons like a fire-bolt in a forest. 

Right through the press drove Thjoden Thengel's son, and his spear was 




shivered as he threw down their chieftain. Out swept his sword, and he 
spurred to the standard, hewed staff and bearer; and the black serpent 
foundered. Then all that was left unslain of their cavalry turned and fled 
far away. 

But lo ! suddenly in the midst of the glory of the king his golden 
shield was dimmed. The new morning was blotted from the sky. Dark fell 
about 

him. Horses reared and screamed. Men cast from the saddle lay grovelling on 
the ground. 

To me! To me!' cried Thjoden. 'Up Eorlingas! Fear no darkness!' But 
Snowmane wild with terror stood up on high, fighting with the air, and then 
with a great scream he crashed upon his side: a black dart had pierced him. 
The king fell beneath him. 

The great shadow descended like a falling cloud. And behold! it was a 
winged creature: if bird, then greater than all other birds, and it was 
naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were 
as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank. A creature of an older 
world maybe it was, whose kind, fingering in forgotten mountains cold 
beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last 
untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with 
fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; 
and he gave it to his servant to be his steed. Down, down it came, and then, 
folding its fingered webs, it gave a croaking cry, and settled upon the body 
of Snowmane, digging in its claws, stooping its long naked neck. 

Upon it sat a shape, black -mantled, huge and threatening. A crown of 
steel he bore, but between rim and robe naught was there to see, save only a 
deadly gleam of eyes: the Lord of the Nazgyl. To the air he had returned, 
summoning his steed ere the darkness failed, and now he was come again, 
bringing ruin, turning hope to despair, and victory to death. A great black 
mace he wielded. 

But Thjoden was not utterly forsaken. The knights of his house lay 
slain about him, or else mastered by the madness of their steeds were borne 
far away. Yet one stood there still: Dernhelm the young, faithful beyond 
fear; and he wept, for he had loved his lord as a father. Right through the 
charge Merry had been borne unharmed behind him, until the Shadow came; 
and 

then Windfola had thrown them in his terror, and now ran wild upon the 




plain. Merry crawled on all fours like a dazed beast, and such a horror was 
on him that he was blind and sick. 

'King's man! King's man!' his heart cried within him. 'You must stay by 
him. As a father you shall be to me, you said.' But his will made no answer, 
and his body shook. He dared not open his eyes or look up. 

Then out of the blackness in his mind he thought that he heard Dernhelm 
speaking; yet now the voice seemed strange, recalling some other voice that 
he had known. 

'Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!' 

A cold voice answered: 'Come not between the Nazgyl and his prey! Or he 
will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of 
lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy 
shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.' 

A sword rang as it was drawn. 'Do what you will; but I will hinder it, 
if I may.' 

'Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!' 

Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed 
that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. 'But 
no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Jowyn I am, Jomund's 
daughter. 

You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! 
For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.' 

The winged creature screamed at her, but the Ringwraith made no answer, 
and was silent, as if in sudden doubt. Very amazement for a moment conquered 
Merry's fear. He opened his eyes and the blackness was lifted from them. 
There some paces from him sat the great beast, and all seemed dark about it, 
and above it loomed the Nazgyl Lord like a shadow of despair. A little to 
the left facing them stood she whom he had called Dernhelm. But the helm of 
her secrecy, had fallen from her, and her bright hair, released from its 
bonds, gleamed with pale gold upon her shoulders. Her eyes grey as the sea 
were hard and fell, and yet tears were on her cheek. A sword was in her 
hand, and she raised her shield against the horror of her enemy's eyes. 

Jowyn it was, and Dernhelm also. For into Merry's mind flashed the 
memory of the face that he saw at the riding from Dunharrow: the face of one 
that goes seeking death, having no hope. Pity filled his heart and great 
wonder, and suddenly the slow-kindled courage of his race awoke. He clenched 
his hand. She should not die, so fair, so desperate At least she should not 




die alone, unaided. 

The face of their enemy was not turned towards him, but still he hardly 
dared to move, dreading lest the deadly eyes should fall on him. Slowly, 
slowly he began to crawl aside; but the Black Captain, in doubt and malice 
intent upon the woman before him, heeded him no more than a worm in the 
mud. 

Suddenly the great beast beat its hideous wings, and the wind of them 
was foul. Again it leaped into the air, and then swiftly fell down upon 
Jowyn, shrieking, striking with beak and claw. 

Still she did not blench: maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, 
slender but as a steel-blade, fair but terrible. A swift stroke she dealt, 
skilled and deadly. The outstretched neck she clove asunder, and the hewn 
head fell like a stone. Backward she sprang as the huge shape crashed to 
ruin, vast wings outspread, crumpled on the earth; and with its fall the 
shadow passed away. A light fell about her, and her hair shone in the 
sunrise. 

Out of the wreck rose the Black Rider, tall and threatening, towering 
above her. With a cry of hatred that stung the very ears like venom he let 
fall his mace. Her shield was shivered in many pieces, and her arm was 
broken; she stumbled to her knees. He bent over her like a cloud, and his 
eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill. 

But suddenly he too stumbled forward with a cry of bitter pain, and his 
stroke went wide, driving into the ground. Merry's sword had stabbed him 
from behind, shearing through the black mantle, and passing up beneath the 
hauberk had pierced the sinew behind his mighty knee. 

’Jowyn! Jowyn!’ cried Merry. Then tottering, struggling up, with her 
last strength she drove her sword between crown and mantle, as the great 
shoulders bowed before her. The sword broke sparkling into many shards. The 
crown rolled away with a clang. Jowyn fell forward upon her fallen foe. But 
lo! the mantle and hauberk were empty. Shapeless they lay now on the ground, 
torn and tumbled; and a cry went up into the shuddering air, and faded to a 
shrill wailing, passing with the wind, a voice bodiless and thin that died, 
and was swallowed up, and was never heard again in that age of this world. 

And there stood Meriadoc the hobbit in the midst of the slain, blinking 
like an owl in the daylight, for tears blinded him; and through a mist he 
looked on Jowyn’ s fair head, as she lay and did not move; and he looked on 
the face of the king, fallen in the midst of his glory, For Snowmane in his 




agony had rolled away from him again; yet he was the bane of his master. 

Then Merry stooped and lifted his hand to kiss it, and lo! Thjoden 
opened his eyes, and they were clear, and he spoke in a quiet voice though 
laboured. 

'Farewell, Master Holbytla!' he said. 'My body is broken. I go to my 
fathers. And even in their mighty company I shall not now be ashamed. I 
felled the black serpent. A grim morn, and a glad day, and a golden sunset!' 

Merry could not speak, but wept anew. 'Forgive me, lord,' he said at 
last, 'if I broke your command, and yet have done no more in your service 
than to weep at our parting.' 

The old king smiled. 'Grieve not! It is forgiven. Great heart will not 
be denied. Live now in blessedness; and when you sit in peace with your 
pipe, think of me! For never now shall I sit with you in Meduseld, as I 
promised, or listen to your herb-lore.' He closed his eyes, and Merry bowed 
beside him. Presently he spoke again. 'Where is Jomer? For my eyes darken, 
and I would see him ere I go. He must be king after me. And I would send 
word to Jowyn. She, she would not have me leave her, and now I shall not see 
her again, dearer than daughter.' 

'Lord, lord,' began Merry brokenly, 'she is—'; but at that moment 
there was a great clamour, and all about them horns and trumpets were 
blowing. Merry looked round: he had forgotten the war, and all the world 
beside, and many hours it seemed since the king rode to his fall, though in 
truth it was only a little while. But now he saw that they were in danger of 
being caught in the very midst of the great battle that would soon be 
joined. 

New forces of the enemy were hastening up the road from the River; and 
from under the walls came the legions of Morgul; and from the southward 
fields came footmen of Harad with horsemen before them, and behind them 
rose 

the huge backs of the mymakil with war -towers upon them. But northward the 
white crest of Jomer led the great front of the Rohirrim which he had again 
gathered and marshalled; and out of the City came all the strength of men 
that was in it, and the silver swan of Dol Amroth was borne in the van, 
driving the enemy from the Gate. 

For a moment the thought flitted through Merry's mind: 'Where is 
Gandalf? Is he not here? Could he not have saved the king and Jowyn?' But 
thereupon Jomer rode up in haste, and with him came the knights of the 




household that still lived and had now mastered their horses. They looked in 
wonder at the carcase of the fell beast that lay there: and their steeds 
would not go near. But Jomer leaped from the saddle, and grief and dismay 
fell upon him as he came to the king's side and stood there in silence. 

Then one of the knights took the king's banner from the hand of Guthlbf 
the banner-bearer who lay dead, and he lifted it up. Slowly Thjoden opened 
his eyes. Seeing the banner he made a sign that it should be given to Jomer. 

'Hail, King of the Mark!' he said. 'Ride now to victory! Bid Jowyn 
farewell!' And so he died, and knew not that Jowyn lay near him. And those 
who stood by wept, crying: 'Thjoden King! Thjoden King!' 

But Jomer said to them: 

Mourn not overmuch! Mighty was the fallen, 
meet was his ending. When his mound is raised, 
women then shall weep. War now calls us! 

Yet he himself wept as he spoke. 'Let his knights remain here,' he 
said; 'and bear his body in honour from the field, lest the battle ride over 
it! Yea, and all these other of the king's men that lie here.' And he looked 
at the slain, recalling their names. Then suddenly he beheld his sister 
Jowyn as she lay, and he knew her. He stood a moment as a man who is 
pierced 

in the midst of a cry by an arrow through the heart; and then his face went 
deathly white; and a cold fury rose in him, so that all speech failed him 
for a while. A fey mood took him. 

'Jowyn, Jowyn!' he cried at last: 'Jowyn, how come you here? What 
madness or devilry is this? Death, death, death! Death take us all!' 

Then without taking counsel or waiting for the approach of the men of 
the City, he spurred headlong back to the front of the great host, and blew 
a horn, and cried aloud for the onset. Over the field rang his clear voice 
calling: 'Death! Ride, ride to ruin and the world's ending!' 

And with that the host began to move. But the Rohirrim sang no more. 
Death they cried with one voice loud and terrible, and gathering speed like 
a great tide their battle swept about their fallen king and passed, roaring 
away southwards. 

And still Meriadoc the hobbit stood there blinking through his tears 
and no one spoke to him, indeed none seemed to heed him. He brushed away 
the 

tears, and stooped to pick up the green shield that Jowyn had given him; and 




he slung it at his back. Then he looked for his sword that he had let fall; 
for even as he struck his blow his arm was numbed, and now he could only use 
his left hand. And behold! there lay his weapon, but the blade was smoking 
like a dry branch that has been thrust in a fire; and as he watched it, it 
writhed and withered and was consumed. 

So passed the sword of the Barrow-downs, work of Westernesse. But glad 
would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in the 
North-kingdom when the D®nedain were young, and chief among their foes 
was 

the dread realm of Angmar and its sorcerer king. No other blade, not though 
mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, 
cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to 
his will. 

Men now raised the king, and laying cloaks upon spear -truncheons they 
made shift to bear him away towards the City; and others lifted Jowyn gently 
up and bore her after him. But the men of the king's household they could 
not yet bring from the field; for seven of the king's knights had fallen 
there, and Djorwine their chief was among them. So they laid them apart from 
their foes and the fell beast and set spears about them. And afterwards when 
all was over men returned and made a fire there and burned the carcase of 
the beast; but for Snowmane they dug a grave and set up a stone upon which 
was carved in the tongues of Gondor and the Mark: 

Faithful servant yet master's bane 

Lightfoot's foal, swift Snowmane. 

Green and long grew the grass on Snowmane's Howe, but ever black and 
bare was the ground where the beast was burned. 

Now slowly and sadly Merry walked beside the bearers, and he gave no 
more heed to the battle. He was weary and full of pain, and his limbs 
trembled as with a chill. A great rain came out of the Sea, and it seemed 
that all things wept for Thjoden and Jowyn, quenching the fires in the City 
with grey tears. It was through a mist that presently he saw the van of the 
men of Gondor approaching. Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, rode up and 
drew 

rein before them. 

'What burden do you bear, Men of Rohan?' he cried. 

'Thjoden King,' they answered. 'He is dead. But Jomer King now rides in 
the battle: he with the white crest in the wind.' 




Then the prince went from his horse, and knelt by the bier in honour of 
the king and his great onset; and he wept. And rising he looked then on 
Jowyn and was amazed. 'Surely, here is a woman?' he said. 'Have even the 
women of the Rohirrim come to war in our need?' 

'Nay! One only,' they answered. 'The Lady Jowyn is she, sister of 
Jomer; and we knew naught of her riding until this hour, and greatly we rue 
it.' 

Then the prince seeing her beauty, though her face was pale and cold, 
touched her hand as he bent to look more closely on her. 'Men of Rohan!' he 
cried. 'Are there no leeches among you? She is hurt to the death maybe, but 
I deem that she yet lives.' And he held the bright-burnished vambrace that 
was upon his arm before her cold tips, and behold! a little mist was laid on 
it hardly to be seen. 

'Haste now is needed,' he said, and he sent one riding back swiftly to 
the City to bring aid. But he bowing low to the fallen, bade them farewell, 
and mounting rode away into battle. 

And now the fighting waxed furious on the fields of the Pelennor; and 
the din of arms rose upon high, with the crying of men and the neighing of 
horses. Horns were blown and trumpets were braying, and the mymakil were 
bellowing as they were goaded to war. Under the south walls of the City the 
footmen of Gondor now drove against the legions of Morgul that were still 
gathered there in strength. But the horsemen rode eastward to the succour of 
Jomer: H®rin the Tall Warden of the Keys, and the Lord of Lossarnach, and 
Hirluin of the Green Hills, and Prince Imrahil the fair with his knights all 
about him. 

Not too soon came their aid to the Rohirrim; for fortune had turned 
against Jomer, and his fury had betrayed him. The great wrath of his onset 
had utterly overthrown the front of his enemies, and great wedges of his 
Riders had passed clear through the ranks of the Southrons, discomfiting 
their horsemen and riding their footmen to ruin. But wherever the mymakil 
came there the horses would not go, but blenched and swerved away; and the 
great monsters were unfought, and stood like towers of defence, and the 
Haradrim rallied about them. And if the Rohirrim at their onset were thrice 
outnumbered by the Haradrim alone, soon their case became worse; for new 
strength came now streaming to the field out of Osgiliath. There they had 
been mustered for the sack of the City and the rape of Gondor, waiting on 
the call of their Captain. He now was destroyed; but Gothmog the lieutenant 




of Morgul had flung them into the fray; Easterlings with axes, and Variags 
of Khand. Southrons in scarlet, and out of Far Harad black men like 
half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues. Some now hastened up behind the 
Rohirrim, others held westward to hold off the forces of Gondor and prevent 
their joining with Rohan. 

It was even as the day thus began to turn against Gondor and their hope 
wavered that a new cry went up in the City, it being then midmorning, and a 
great wind blowing, and the rain flying north, and the sun shining. In that 
clear air watchmen on the walls saw afar a new sight of fear, and their last 
hope left them. 

For Anduin, from the bend at the Harlond, so flowed that from the City 
men could look down it lengthwise for some leagues, and the far-sighted 
could see any ships that approached. And looking thither they cried in 
dismay; for black against the glittering stream they beheld a fleet borne up 
on the wind: dromunds, and ships of great draught with many oars, and with 
black sails bellying in the breeze. 

The Corsairs of Umbar!' men shouted. 'The Corsairs of Umbar! Took! The 
Corsairs of Umbar are coming! So Belfalas is taken, and the Ethir, and 
Febennin is gone. The Corsairs are upon us! It is the last stroke of doom!' 

And some without order, for none could he found to command them in the 
City, ran to the bells and tolled the alarm; and some blew the trumpets 
sounding the retreat. 'Back to the walls!' they cried. 'Back to the walls! 

Come back to the City before all are overwhelmed!' But the wind that sped 
the ships blew all their clamour away. 

The Rohirrim indeed had no need of news or alarm. All too well they 
could see for themselves the black sails. For Jomer was now scarcely a mile 
from the Harlond, and a great press of his first foes was between him and 
the haven there, while new foes came swirling behind, cutting him off from 
the Prince. Now he looked to the River, and hope died in his heart, and the 
wind that he had blessed he now called accursed. But the hosts of Mordor 
were enheartened, and filled with a new lust and fury they came yelling to 
the onset. 

Stern now was Jomer's mood, and his mind clear again. He let blow the 
horns to rally all men to his banner that could come thither; for he thought 
to make a great shield-wall at the last, and stand, and fight there on foot 
till all fell, and do deeds of song on the fields of Pelennor, though no man 
should be left in the West to remember the last King of the Mark. So he rode 




to a green hillock and there set his banner, and the White Horse ran 
rippling in the wind. 

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising 

I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing. 

To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking: 

Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall! 

These staves he spoke, yet he laughed as he said them. For once more 
lust of battle was on him; and he was still unscathed, and he was young, and 
he was king: the lord of a fell people. And lo! even as he laughed at 
despair he looked out again on the black ships, and he lifted up his sword 
to defy them. 

And then wonder took him, and a great joy; and he cast his sword up in 
the sunlight and sang as he caught it. And all eyes followed his gaze, and 
behold! upon the foremost ship a great standard broke, and the wind 
displayed it as she turned towards the Harlond. There flowered a White Tree, 
and that was for Gondor; but Seven Stars were about it, and a high crown 
above it, the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond 
count. And the stars flamed in the sunlight, for they were wrought of gems 
by Arwen daughter of Elrond; and the crown was bright in the morning, for it 
was wrought of mithril and gold. 

Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar, Isildur's heir, out of the 
Paths of the Dead, borne upon a wind from the Sea to the kingdom of Gondor; 
and the mirth of the Rohirrim was a torrent of laughter and a flashing of 
swords, and the joy and wonder of the City was a music of trumpets and a 
ringing of bells. But the hosts of Mordor were seized with bewilderment, and 
a great wizardry it seemed to them that their own ships should be filled 
with their foes; and a black dread fell on them, knowing that the tides of 
fate had turned against them and their doom was at hand. 

East rode the knights of Dol Amroth driving the enemy before them: 
troll-men and Variags and ores that hated the sunlight. South strode Jomer 
and men fled before his face, and they were caught between the hammer and 
the anvil. For now men leaped from the ships to the quays of the Harlond and 
swept north like a storm. There came Legolas, and Gimli wielding his axe, 
and Halbarad with the standard, and Elladan and Elrohir with stars on their 
brow, and the dour-handed D®nedain, Rangers of the North, leading a great 
valour of the folk of Lebennin and Lamedon and the fiefs of the South. But 
before all went Aragorn with the Flame of the West, And®ril like a new fire 




kindled, Narsil re-forged as deadly as of old: and upon his brow was the 
Star of Elendil. 

And so at length Jomer and Aragorn met in the midst of the battle, and 
they leaned on their swords and looked on one another and were glad. 

'Thus we meet again, though all the hosts of Mordor lay between us,' 
said Aragorn. 'Did I not say so at the Hornburg?' 

'So you spoke,' said Jomer, 'but hope oft deceives, and I knew not then 
that you were a man foresighted. Yet twice blessed is help unlooked for, and 
never was a meeting of friends more joyful.' And they clasped hand in hand. 
'Nor indeed more timely,' said Jomer. 'You come none too soon, my friend. 
Much loss and sorrow has befallen us.' 

'Then let us avenge it, ere we speak of it!' said Aragorn, and they 
rode back to battle together. 

Hard fighting and long labour they had still; for the Southrons were 
bold men and grim, and fierce in despair; and the Easterlings were strong 
and war-hardened and asked for no quarter. And so in this place and that, by 
burned homestead or barn, upon hillock or mound, under wall or on field, 
still they gathered and rallied and fought until the day wore away. 

Then the Sun went at last behind Mindolluin and filled all the sky with 
a great burning, so that the hills and the mountains were dyed as with 
blood; fire glowed in the River, and the grass of the Pelennor lay red in 
the nightfall. And in that hour the great Battle of the field of Gondor was 
over; and not one living foe was left within the circuit of the Rammas. All 
were slain save those who fled to die, or to drown in the red foam of the 
River. Few ever came eastward to Morgul or Mordor; and to the land of the 
Haradrim came only a tale from far off: a rumour of the wrath and terror of 
Gondor. 

Aragorn and Jomer and Imrahil rode back towards the Gate of the City, 
and they were now weary beyond joy or sorrow. These three were unscathed, 
for such was their fortune and the skill and might of their arms, and few 
indeed had dared to abide them or look on their faces in the hour of their 
wrath. But many others were hurt or maimed or dead upon the field. The axes 
hewed Forlong as he fought alone and unhorsed; and both Duilin of Morthond 
and his brother were trampled to death when they assailed the mymakil, 
leading their bowmen close to shoot at the eyes of the monsters. Neither 
Hirluin the fair would return to Pinnath Gelin, nor Grimbold to Grimslade, 
nor Halbarad to the Northlands, dour -handed Ranger. No few had fallen, 




renowned or nameless, captain or soldier; for it was a great battle and the 
full count of it no tale has told. So long afterward a maker in Rohan said 
in his song of the Mounds of Mundburg: 

We heard of the horns in the hills ringing, 
the swords shining in the South-kingdom. 

Steeds went striding to the Stoningland 
as wind in the morning. War was kindled. 

There Thjoden fell, Thengling mighty, 
to his golden halls and green pastures 
in the Northern fields never returning, 
high lord of the host. Harding and Guthlbf 
D®nhere and Djorwine, doughty Grimbold, 

Herefara and Herubrand, Horn and Fastred, 
fought and fell there in a far country: 
in the Mounds of Mundburg under mould they lie 
with their league-fellows, lords of Gondor. 

Neither Hirluin the Fair to the hills by the sea, 
nor Forlong the old to the flowering vales 
ever, to Arnach, to his own country 
returned in triumph; nor the tall bowmen, 

Derufin and Duilin, to their dark waters, 
meres ofMorthond under mountain-shadows. 

Death in the morning and at day's ending 
lords took and lowly. Long now they sleep 
under grass in Gondor by the Great River. 

Grey now as tears, gleaming silver, 
red then it rolled, roaring water: 
foam dyed with blood flamed at sunset; 
as beacons mountains burned at evening; 
red fell the dew in Rammas Echor. 




Chapter 7 . The Pyre of Denethor 



When the dark shadow at the Gate withdrew Gandalf still sat motionless. 
But Pippin rose to his feet, as if a great weight had been lifted from him; 
and he stood listening to the horns, and it seemed to him that they would 
break his heart with joy. And never in after years could he hear a horn 
blown in the distance without tears starting in his eyes. But now suddenly 
his errand returned to his memory, and he ran forward. At that moment 
Gandalf stirred and spoke to Shadowfax, and was about to ride through the 
Gate. 

'Gandalf, Gandalf! ' cried Pippin, and Shadowfax halted. 

’What are you doing here?' said Gandalf. 'Is it not a law in the City 
that those who wear the black and silver must stay in the Citadel, unless 
their lord gives them leave?' 

'He has,' said Pippin. 'He sent me away. But I am frightened. Something 
terrible may happen up there. The Lord is out of his mind, I think. I am 
afraid he will kill himself, and kill Faramir too. Can't you do something?' 

Gandalf looked through the gaping Gate, and already on the fields he 
heard the gathering sound of battle. He clenched his hand. 'I must go ' he 
said. 'The Black Rider is abroad, and he will yet bring ruin on us. I have 
no time.' 

'But Faramir!' cried Pippin. 'He is not dead, and they will burn him 
alive, if someone does not stop them.' 

'Burn him alive?' said Gandalf. 'What is this tale? Be quick!' 

'Denethor has gone to the Tombs,' said Pippin, 'and he has taken 
Faramir, and he says we are all to burn, and he will not wait, and they are 
to make a pyre and burn him on it, and Faramir as well. And he has sent men 
to fetch wood and oil. And I have told Beregond, but I'm afraid he won't 
dare to leave his post: he is on guard. And what can he do anyway?' So 
Pippin poured out his tale, reaching up and touching Gandalf s knee with 
trembling hands. 'Can't you save Faramir?' 

'Maybe I can,' said Gandalf; 'but if I do, then others will die, I 
fear. Well, I must come, since no other help can reach him. But evil and 
sorrow will come of this. Even in the heart of our stronghold the Enemy has 
power to strike us: for his will it is that is at work.' 




Then having made up his mind he acted swiftly; and catching up Pippin 
and setting him before him, he turned Shadowfax with a word. Up the climbing 
streets of Minas Tirith they clattered, while the noise of war rose behind 
them. Everywhere men were rising from their despair and dread, seizing their 
weapons, crying one to another: ’Rohan has come!' Captains were shouting, 
companies were mustering; many already were marching down to the Gate. 

They met the Prince Imrahil, and he called to them: 'Whither now, 
Mithrandir? The Rohirrim are fighting on the fields of Gondor! We must 
gather all the strength that we can find.’ 

’You will need every man and more,' said Gandalf. 'Make all haste. I 
will come when I can. But I have an errand to the Lord Denethor that will 
not wait. Take command in the Lord's absence!' 

They passed on; and as they climbed and drew near to the Citadel they 
felt the wind blowing in their faces, and they caught the glimmer of morning 
far away, a light growing in the southern sky. But it brought little hope to 
them, not knowing what evil lay before them, fearing to come too late. 

'Darkness is passing,' said Gandalf, 'but it still lies heavy on this 
City.' 

At the gate of the Citadel they found no guard. 'Then Beregond has 
gone,' said Pippin more hopefully. They turned away and hastened along the 
road to the Closed Door. It stood wide open, and the porter lay before it. 

He was slain and his key had been taken. 

'Work of the Enemy!' said Gandalf. 'Such deeds he loves: friend at war 
with friend; loyalty divided in confusion of hearts.' Now he dismounted and 
bade Shadowfax return to his stable. 'Lor, my friend,' he said, 'you and I 
should have ridden to the fields long ago, but other matters delay me. Yet 
come swiftly if I call!' 

They passed the Door and walked on down the steep winding road. Light 
was growing, and the tall columns and carven figures beside the way went 
slowly by like grey ghosts. 

Suddenly the silence was broken, and they heard below them cries and 
the ringing of swords: such sounds as had not been heard in the hallowed 
places since the building of the City. At last they came to Rath Dnnen and 
hastened towards the House of the Stewards, looming in the twilight under 
its great dome. 

'Stay! Stay!' cried Gandalf, springing forward to the stone stair 
before the door. 'Stay this madness!' 




For there were the servants of Denethor with swords and torches in 
their hands; but alone in the porch upon the topmost step stood Beregond, 
clad in the black and silver of the Guard; and he held the door against 
them. Two of them had already fallen to his sword, staining the hallows with 
their blood; and the others cursed him, calling him outlaw and traitor to 
his master. 

Even as Gandalf and Pippin ran forward, they heard from within the 
house of the dead the voice of Denethor crying: 'Haste, haste! Do as I have 
bidden! Slay me this renegade! Or must I do so myself?' Thereupon the door 
which Beregond held shut with his left hand was wrenched open, and there 
behind him stood the Lord of the City, tall and fell; a light like flame was 
in his eyes, and he held a drawn sword. 

But Gandalf sprang up the steps, and the men fell back from him and 
covered their eyes; for his coming was like the incoming of a white light 
into a dark place, and he came with great anger. He lifted up his hand, and 
in the very stroke, the sword of Denethor flew up and left his grasp and 
fell behind him in the shadows of the house; and Denethor stepped backward 
before Gandalf as one amazed. 

'What is this, my lord?' said the wizard. 'The houses of the dead are 
no places for the living. And why do men fight here in the Hallows when 
there is war enough before the Gate? Or has our Enemy come even to Rath 
Dnnen?' 

'Since when has the Lord of Gondor been answerable to thee?' said 
Denethor. 'Or may I not command my own servants?' 

'You may,' said Gandalf. 'But others may contest your will, when it is 
turned to madness and evil. Where is your son, Faramir?' 

'He lies within,' said Denethor, 'burning, already burning. They have 
set a fire in his flesh. But soon all shall be burned. The West has failed. 

It shall all go up in a great fire, and all shall be ended. Ash! Ash and 
smoke blown away on the wind!' 

Then Gandalf seeing the madness that was on him feared that he had 
already done some evil deed, and he thrust forward, with Beregond and Pippin 
behind him, while Denethor gave back until he stood beside the table within. 
But there they found Faramir, still dreaming in his fever, lying upon the 
table. Wood was piled under it, and high all about it, and all was drenched 
with oil, even the garments of Faramir and the coverlets; but as yet no fire 
had been set to the fuel. Then Gandalf revealed the strength that lay hid in 




him; even as the light of his power was hidden under his grey mantle. He 
leaped up on to the faggots, and raising the sick man lightly he sprang down 
again, and bore him towards the door. But as he did so Faramir moaned and 
called on his father in his dream. 

Denethor started as one waking from a trance, and the flame died in his 
eyes, and he wept; and he said: 'Do not take my son from me! He calls for 
me.' 

'He calls,' said Gandalf, 'but you cannot come to him yet. For he must 
seek healing on the threshold of death, and maybe find it not. Whereas your 
part is to go out to the battle of your City, where maybe death awaits you. 

This you know in your heart.' 

'He will not wake again,' said Denethor. 'Battle is vain. Why should we 
wish to live longer? Why should we not go to death side by side?' 

'Authority is not given to you, Steward of Gondor, to order the hour of 
your death,' answered Gandalf. 'And only the heathen kings, under the 
domination of the Dark Power, did thus, slaying themselves in pride and 
despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death.' Then passing through 
the door he took Faramir from the deadly house and laid him on the bier on 
which he had been brought, and which had now been set in the porch. Denethor 
followed him, and stood trembling, looking with longing on the face of his 
son. And for a moment, while all were silent and still, watching the Lord in 
his throes, he wavered. 

'Come!' said Gandalf. 'We are needed. There is much that you can yet 
do.' 

Then suddenly Denethor laughed. He stood up tall and proud again, and 
stepping swiftly back to the table he lifted from it the pillow on which his 
head had lain. Then coming to the doorway he drew aside the covering, and 
lo! he had between his hands a palantnr. And as he held it up, it seemed to 
those that looked on that the globe began to glow with an inner flame, so 
that the lean face of the Lord was lit as with a red fire, and it seemed cut 
out of hard stone, sharp with black shadows, noble, proud, and terrible. His 
eyes glittered. 

'Pride and despair!' he cried. 'Didst thou think that the eyes of the 
White Tower were blind? Nay, I have seen more than thou knowest, Grey 
Fool. 

For thy hope is but ignorance. Go then and labour in healing! Go forth and 
fight! Vanity. For a little space you may triumph on the field, for a day. 




But against the Power that now arises there is no victory. To this City only 
the first finger of its hand has yet been stretched. All the East is moving. 

And even now the wind of thy hope cheats thee and wafts up Anduin a fleet 
with black sails. The West has failed. It is time for all to depart who 
would not be slaves.' 

'Such counsels will make the Enemy's victory certain indeed,' said 
Gandalf. 

'Hope on then!' laughed Denethor. 'Do I not know thee, Mithrandir? Thy 
hope is to rule in my stead, to stand behind every throne, north, south, or 
west. I have read thy mind and its policies. Do I not know that you 
commanded this halfling here to keep silence? That you brought him hither to 
be a spy within my very chamber? And yet in our speech together I have 
learned the names and purpose of all thy companions. So! With the left hand 
thou wouldst use me for a little while as a shield against Mordor, and with 
the right bring up this Ranger of the North to supplant me. 

'But I say to thee, Gandalf Mithrandir, I will not be thy tool! I am 
Steward of the House of Anbrion. I will not step down to be the dotard 
chamberlain of an upstart. Even were his claim proved to me, still he comes 
but of the line of Isildur. I will not bow to such a one, last of a ragged 
house long bereft of lordship and dignity.' 

'What then would you have,' said Gandalf, 'if your will could have its 
way?' 

'I would have things as they were in all the days of my life,' answered 
Denethor, 'and in the days of my longfathers before me: to be the Lord of 
this City in peace, and leave my chair to a son after me, who would be his 
own master and no wizard's pupil. But if doom denies this to me, then I will 
have naught, neither life diminished, nor love halved, nor honour abated.' 

'To me it would not seem that a Steward who faithfully surrenders his 
charge is diminished in love or in honour,' said Gandalf. 'And at the least 
you shall not rob your son of his choice while his death is still in doubt.' 

At those words Denethor's eyes flamed again, and taking the Stone under 
his arm he drew a knife and strode towards the bier. But Beregond sprang 
forward and set himself before Faramir. 

'So!' cried Denethor. 'Thou hadst already stolen half my son's love. 

Now thou stealest the hearts of my knights also, so that they rob me wholly 
of my son at the last. But in this at least thou shalt not defy my will: to 
rule my own end.' 




'Come hither!' he cried to his servants. 'Come, if you are not all 
recreant!' Then two of them ran up the steps to him. Swiftly he snatched a 
torch from the hand of one and sprang back into the house. Before Gandalf 
could hinder him he thrust the brand amid the fuel, and at once it crackled 
and roared into flame. 

Then Denethor leaped upon the table, and standing there wreathed in 
fire and smoke he took up the staff of his stewardship that lay at his feet 
and broke it on his knee. Casting the pieces into the blaze he bowed and 
laid himself on the table, clasping the palantnr with both hands upon his 
breast. And it was said that ever after, if any man looked in that Stone, 
unless he had a great strength of will to turn it to other purpose, he saw 
only two aged hands withering in flame. 

Gandalf in grief and horror turned his face away and closed the door. 

For a while he stood in thought, silent upon the threshold, while those 
outside heard the greedy roaring of the fire within. And then Denethor gave 
a great cry, and afterwards spoke no more, nor was ever again seen by mortal 
men. 

'So passes Denethor, son of Ecthelion,' said Gandalf: Then he turned to 
Beregond and the Lord's servants that stood there aghast. 'And so pass also 
the days of Gondor that you have known; for good or evil they are ended. Ill 
deeds have been done here; but let now all enmity that lies between you be 
put away, for it was contrived by the Enemy and works his will. You have 
been caught in a net of warring duties that you did not weave. But think, 
you servants of the Lord, blind in your obedience, that but for the treason 
of Beregond Faramir, Captain of the White Tower, would now also be burned. 

'Bear away from this unhappy place your comrades who have fallen. And 
we will bear Faramir, Steward of Gondor, to a place where he can sleep in 
peace, or die if that be his doom.' 

Then Gandalf and Beregond taking up the bier bore it away towards the 
Houses of Healing, while behind them walked Pippin with downcast head. 
But 

the servants of the Lord stood gazing as stricken men at the house of the 
dead; and even as Gandalf came to the end of Rath Dnnen there was a great 
noise. Looking back they saw the dome of the house crack and smokes issue 
forth; and then with a rush and rumble of stone it fell in a flurry of fire; 
but still unabated the flames danced and flickered among the ruins. Then in 
terror the servants fled and followed Gandalf. 




At length they came back to the Steward’s Door, and Beregond looked 
with grief at the porter. This deed I shall ever rue,' he said; 'but a 
madness of haste was on me, and he would not listen, but drew sword against 
me.' Then taking the key that he had wrested from the slain man he closed 
the door and locked it. This should now be given to the Lord Faramir,' he 
said. 

The Prince of Dol Amroth is in command in the absence of the Lord,' 
said Gandalf; 'but since he is not here, I must take this on myself. I bid 
you keep the key and guard it, until the City is set in order again.' 

Now at last they passed into the high circles of the City, and in the 
light of morning they went their way towards the Houses of Healing; and 
these were fair houses set apart, for the care of those who were grievously 
sick, but now they were prepared for the tending of men hurt in battle or 
dying. They stood not far from the Citadel-gate, in the sixth circle, nigh 
to its southward wall, and about them was a garden and a greensward with 
trees, the only such place in the City. There dwelt the few women that had 
been permitted to remain in Minas Tirith, since they were skilled in healing 
or in the service of the healers. 

But even as Gandalf and his companions came carrying the bier to the 
main door of the Houses, they heard a great cry that went up from the field 
before the Gate and rising shrill and piercing into the sky passed, and died 
away on the wind. So terrible was the cry that for a moment all stood still, 
and yet when it had passed, suddenly their hearts were lifted up in such a 
hope as they had not known since the darkness came out of the East; and it 
seemed to them that the light grew clear and the sun broke through the 
clouds. 

But Gandalf s face was grave and sad, and bidding Beregond and Pippin 
to take Faramir into the Houses of Healing, he went up on to the walls 
nearby; and there like a figure carven in white he stood in the new sun and 
looked out. And he beheld with the sight that was given to him all that had 
befallen; and when Jomer rode out from the forefront of his battle and stood 
beside those who lay upon the field, he sighed, and he cast his cloak about 
him again, and went from the walls. And Beregond and Pippin found him 
standing in thought before the door of the Houses when they came out. 

They looked at him, and for a while he was silent. At last he spoke. 

'My friends,' he said, 'and all you people of this city and of the Western 
lands! Things of great sorrow and renown have come to pass. Shall we weep or 




be glad? Beyond hope the Captain of our foes has been destroyed, and you 
have heard the echo of his last despair. But he has not gone without woe and 
bitter loss. And that I might have averted but for the madness of Denethor. 

So long has the reach of our Enemy become! Alas! but now I perceive how his 
will was able to enter into the very heart of the City. 

'Though the Stewards deemed that it was a secret kept only by 
themselves, long ago I guessed that here in the White Tower, one at least of 
the Seven Seeing Stones was preserved. In the days of his wisdom Denethor 
did not presume to use it, nor to challenge Sauron, knowing the limits of 
his own strength. But his wisdom failed; and I fear that as the peril of his 
realm grew he looked in the Stone and was deceived: far too often, I guess, 
since Boromir departed. He was too great to be subdued to the will of the 
Dark Power, he saw nonetheless only those things which that Power permitted 
him to see. The knowledge which he obtained was, doubtless, often of service 
to him; yet the vision of the great might of Mordor that was shown to him 
fed the despair of his heart until it overthrew his mind.' 

'Now I understand what seemed so strange to me!' said Pippin shuddering 
at his memories as he spoke. 'The Lord went away from the room where 
Far amir 

lay; and it was only when he returned that I first thought he was changed, 
old and broken.' 

'It was in the very hour that Faramir was brought to the Tower that 
many of us saw a strange light in the topmost chamber,' said Beregond. 'But 
we have seen that light before, and it has long been rumoured in the City, 
that the Lord would at times wrestle in thought with his Enemy.' 

'Alas! then I have guessed rightly,' said Gandalf. 'Thus the will of 
Sauron entered into Minas Tirith; and thus I have been delayed here. And 
here I shall still be forced to remain, for I shall soon have other charges, 
not Faramir only. 

'Now I must go down to meet those who come. I have seen a sight upon 
the field that is very grievous to my heart, and greater sorrow may yet come 
to pass. Come with me, Pippin! But you, Beregond, should return to the 
Citadel and tell the chief of the Guard there what has befallen. It will be 
his duty, I fear, to withdraw you from the Guard; but say to him that, if I 
may give him counsel, you should be sent to the Houses of Healing, to be the 
guard and servant of your captain, and to be at his side when he awakes - if 
that shall ever be again. For by you he was saved from the fire. Go now ! I 




shall return soon.' 

With that he turned away and went with Pippin down towards the lower 
city. And even as they hastened on their way the wind brought a grey rain, 
and all the fires sank, and there arose a great smoke before them. 




Chapter 8 . The Houses of Healing 



A mist was in Merry's eyes of tears and weariness when they drew near 
the ruined Gate of Minas Tirith. He gave little heed to the wreck and 
slaughter that lay about all. Fire and smoke and stench was in the air; for 
many engines had been burned or cast into the fire-pits, and many of the 
slain also, while here and there lay many carcases of the great Southron 
monsters, half-burned, or broken by stone-cast, or shot through the eyes by 
the valiant archers of Morthond. The flying rain had ceased for a time, and 
the sun gleamed up above; but all the lower city was still wrapped in a 
smouldering reek. 

Already men were labouring to clear a way through the jetsam of battle; 
and now out from the Gate came some bearing litters. Gently they laid Jowyn 
upon soft pillows; but the king’s body they covered with a great cloth of 
gold, and they bore torches about him, and their flames, pale in the 
sunlight, were fluttered by the wind. 

So Thjoden and Jowyn came to the City of Gondor, and all who saw them 
bared their heads and bowed; and they passed through the ash and fume of the 
burned circle, and went on and up along the streets of stone. To Merry the 
ascent seemed agelong, a meaningless journey in a hateful dream, going on 
and on to some dim ending that memory cannot seize. 

Slowly the lights of the torches in front of him flickered and went 
out, and he was walking in a darkness; and he thought: 'This is a tunnel 
leading to a tomb; there we shall stay forever.' But suddenly into his dream 
there fell a living voice. 

'Well, Merry! Thank goodness I have found you!' 

He looked up and the mist before his eyes cleared a little. There was 
Pippin! They were face to face in a narrow lane, and but for themselves it 
was empty. He rubbed his eyes. 

'Where is the king?' he said. 'And Jowyn?' Then he stumbled and sat 
down on a doorstep and began to weep again. 

'They have gone up into the Citadel,' said Pippin. 'I think you must 
have fallen asleep on your feet and taken the wrong turning. When we found 
that you were not with them, Gandalf sent me to look for you. Poor old 
Merry! How glad I am to see you again! But you are worn out, and I won't 




bother you with any talk. But tell me, are you hurt, or wounded?' 

'No,' said Merry. 'Well, no, I don't think so. But I can't use my right 
arm, Pippin, not since I stabbed him. And my sword burned all away like a 
piece of wood.' 

Pippin's face was anxious. 'Well, you had better come with me as quick 
as you can,' he said. 'I wish I could carry you. You aren't fit to walk any 
further. They shouldn't have let you walk at all; but you must forgive them. 

So many dreadful things have happened in the City, Merry, that one poor 
hobbit coming in from the battle is easily overlooked.' 

'It's not always a misfortune being overlooked,' said Merry. 'I was 
overlooked just now by - no, no, I can't speak of it. Help me, Pippin! It's 
all going dark again, and my arm is so cold.' 

'Lean on me, Merry lad!' said Pippin. 'Come now! Foot by foot. It's not 
far.' 

'Are you going to bury me?' said Merry. 

'No, indeed!' said Pippin, trying to sound cheerful, though his heart 
was wrung with fear and pity. 'No, we are going to the Houses of Healing.' 

They turned out of the lane that ran between tall houses and the outer 
wall of the fourth circle, and they regained the main street climbing up to 
the Citadel. Step by step they went, while Merry swayed and murmured as one 
in sleep. 

'I'll never get him there,' thought Pippin. 'Is there no one to help 
me? I can't leave him here.' Just then to his surprise a boy came running up 
behind, and as he passed he recognized Bergil Beregond's son. 

'Hullo, Bergil!' he called. 'Where are you going? Glad to see you 
again, and still alive!' 

'I am running errands for the Healers,' said Bergil. 'I cannot stay.' 

'Don't!' said Pippin. 'But tell them up there that I have a sick 
hobbit, a perian mind you, come from the battle-field. I don't think he can 
walk so far. If Mithrandir is there, he will be glad of the message.' Bergil 
ran on. 

'I'd better wait here,' thought Pippin. So he let Merry sink gently 
down on to the pavement in a patch of sunlight, and then he sat down beside 
him, laying Merry's head in his lap. He felt his body and limbs gently, and 
took his friend's hands in his own. The right hand felt icy to the touch. 

It was not long before Gandalf himself came in search of them. He 
stooped over Merry and caressed his brow; then he lifted him carefully. 'He 




should have been borne in honour into this city,' he said. 'He has well 
repaid my trust; for if Elrond had not yielded to me, neither of you would 
have set out; and then far more grievous would the evils of this day have 
been.' He sighed. 'And yet here is another charge on my hands, while all the 
time the battle hangs in the balance.' 

So at last Faramir and Jowyn and Meriadoc were laid in beds in the 
Houses of Healing; and there they were tended well. For though all lore was 
in these latter days fallen from its fullness of old, the leechcraft of 
Gondor was still wise, and skilled in the healing of wound and hurt, and all 
such sickness as east of the Sea mortal men were subject to. Save old age 
only. For that they had found no cure; and indeed the span of their lives 
had now waned to little more than that of other men, and those among them 
who passed the tale of five score years with vigour were grown few, save in 
some houses of purer blood. But now their art and knowledge were baffled; 
for there were many sick of a malady that would not be healed; and they 
called it the Black Shadow, for it came from the Nazgyl. And those who were 
stricken with it fell slowly into an ever deeper dream, and then passed to 
silence and a deadly cold, and so died. And it seemed to the tenders of the 
sick that on the Halfling and on the Fady of Rohan this malady lay heavily. 
Still at whiles as the morning wore away they would speak, murmuring in 
their dreams; and the watchers listened to all that they said, hoping 
perhaps to learn something that would help them to understand their hurts. 
But soon they began to fall down into the darkness, and as the sun turned 
west a grey shadow crept over their faces. But Faramir burned with a fever 
that would not abate. 

Gandalf went from one to the other full of care, and he was told all 
that the watchers could hear. And so the day passed, while the great battle 
outside went on with shifting hopes and strange tidings; and still Gandalf 
waited and watched and did not go forth; till at last the red sunset filled 
all the sky, and the light through the windows fell on the grey faces of the 
sick. Then it seemed to those who stood by that in the glow the faces 
flushed softly as with health returning, but it was only a mockery of hope. 

Then an old wife, Ioreth, the eldest of the women who served in that 
house, looking on the fair face of Faramir, wept, for all the people loved 
him. And she said: 'Alas! if he should die. Would that there were kings in 
Gondor, as there were once upon a time, they say! For it is said in old 
lore: The hands of the king are the hands of a healer. And so the rightful 




king could ever be known.' 

And Gandalf, who stood by, said: 'Men may long remember your words, 
Ioreth! For there is hope in them. Maybe a king has indeed returned to 
Gondor; or have you not heard the strange tidings that have come to the 
City?' 

'I have been too busy with this and that to heed all the crying and 
shouting,' she answered. 'All I hope is that those murdering devils do not 
come to this House and trouble the sick.' 

Then Gandalf went out in haste, and already the fire in the sky was 
burning out, and the smouldering hills were fading, while ash-grey evening 
crept over the fields. 

Now as the sun went down Aragorn and Jomer and Imrahil drew near the 
City with their captains and knights; and when they came before the Gate 
Aragorn said: 

'Behold the Sun setting in a great fire! It is a sign of the end and 
fall of many things, and a change in the tides of the world. But this City 
and realm has rested in the charge of the Stewards for many long years, and 
I fear that if I enter it unbidden, then doubt and debate may arise, which 
should not be while this war is fought. I will not enter in, nor make any 
claim, until it be seen whether we or Mordor shall prevail. Men shall pitch 
my tents upon the field, and here I will await the welcome of the Lord of 
the City.' 

But Jomer said: 'Already you have raised the banner of the Kings and 
displayed the tokens of Elendil's House. Will you suffer these to be 
challenged?' 

'No,' said Aragorn. 'But I deem the time unripe; and I have no mind for 
strife except with our Enemy and his servants.' 

And the Prince Imrahil said. Your words, lord, are wise, if one who is 
a kinsman of the Lord Denethor may counsel you in this matter. He is 
strong-willed and proud, but old; and his mood has been strange since his 
son was stricken down. Yet I would not have you remain like a beggar at the 
door.' 

'Not a beggar,' said Aragorn. 'Say a captain of the Rangers, who are 
unused to cities and houses of stone.' And he commanded that his banner 
should be furled; and he did off the Star of the North Kingdom and gave it 
to the keeping of the sons of Elrond. 

Then the Prince Imrahil and Jomer of Rohan left him and passed through 




the City and the tumult of the people, and mounted to the Citadel; and they 
came to the Hall of the Tower, seeking the Steward. But they found his chair 
empty, and before the dais lay Thjoden King of the Mark upon a bed of state; 
and twelve torches stood about it, and twelve guards, knights both of Rohan 
and Gondor. And the hangings of the bed were of green and white, but upon 
the king was laid the great cloth of gold up to his breast, and upon that 
his unsheathed sword, and at his feet his shield, The light of the torches 
shimmered in his white hair like sun in the spray of a fountain, but his 
face was fair and young, save that a peace lay on it beyond the reach of 
youth; and it seemed that he slept. 

When they had stood silent for a time beside the king, Imrahil said: 
'Where is the Steward? And where also is Mithrandir?' 

And one of the guards answered: 'The Steward of Gondor is in the Houses 
of Healing.' 

But Jomer said: 'Where is the Lady Jowyn, my sister; for surely she 
should be lying beside the king, and in no less honour? Where have they 
bestowed her?' 

And Imrahil said: 'But the Lady Jowyn was yet living when they bore her 
hither. Did you not know?' 

Then hope unlooked-for came so suddenly to Jomer's heart, and with it 
the bite of care and fear renewed, that he said no more, but turned and went 
swiftly from the hall; and the Prince followed him. And when they came forth 
evening had fallen and many stars were in the sky. And there came Gandalf on 
foot and with him one cloaked in grey; and they met before the doors of the 
Houses of Healing. And they greeted Gandalf and said: 'We seek the Steward, 
and men say that he is in this House. Has any hurt befallen him? And the 
Lady Jowyn, where is she?' 

And Gandalf answered: 'She lies within and is not dead, but is near 
death. But the Lord Faramir was wounded by an evil dart, as you have heard, 
and he is now the Steward; for Denethor has departed, and his house is in 
ashes.' And they were filled with grief and wonder at the tale that he told. 

But Imrahil said: 'So victory is shorn of gladness, and it is bitter 
bought, if both Gondor and Rohan are in one day bereft of their lords. Jomer 
rules the Rohirrim. Who shall rule the City meanwhile? Shall we not send now 
for the Lord Aragorn?' 

And the cloaked man spoke and said: 'He is come.' And they saw as he 
stepped into the light of the lantern by the door that it was Aragorn, 




wrapped in the grey cloak of Lurien above his mail, and bearing no other 
token than the green stone of Galadriel. 'I have come because Gandalf begs 
me to do so,’ he said. 'But for the present I am but the Captain of the 
D®nedain of Arnor; and the Lord of Dol Amroth shall rule the City until 
Faramir awakes. But it is my counsel that Gandalf should rule us all in the 
days that follow and in our dealings with the Enemy.' And they agreed upon 
that. 

Then Gandalf said: 'Let us not stay at the door, for the time is 
urgent. Let us enter! For it is only in the coming of Aragorn that any hope 
remains for the sick that lie in the Flouse. Thus spake Ioreth, wise- woman of 
Gondor: The hands of the king are the hands of a healer, and so shall the 
rightful king be known .' 

Then Aragorn entered first and the others followed. And there at the 
door were two guards in the livery of the Citadel: one tall, but the other 
scarce the height of a boy; and when he saw them he cried aloud in surprise 
and joy. 

'Strider! Flow splendid! Do you know, I guessed it was you in the black 
ships. But they were all shouting corsairs and wouldn't listen to me. How 
did you do it?' 

Aragorn laughed, and took the hobbit by the hand. 'Well met indeed!' he 
said. 'But there is not time yet for travellers' tales.' 

But Imrahil said to Jomer: 'Is it thus that we speak to our kings? Yet 
maybe he will wear his crown in some other name!' 

And Aragorn hearing him, turned and said: 'Verily, for in the high 
tongue of old I am Elessar, the Elfstone, and Envinyatar, the Renewed: and 
he lifted from his breast the green stone that lay there. 'But Strider shall 
be the name of my house, if that be ever established. In the high tongue it 
will not sound so ill, and Telcontar I will be and all the heirs of my 
body.' 

And with that they passed into the House; and as they went towards the 
rooms where the sick were tended Gandalf told of the deeds of Jowyn and 
Meriadoc. 'For,' he said, 'long have I stood by them and at first they spoke 
much in their dreaming, before they sank into the deadly darkness. Also it 
is given to me to see many things far off.' 

Aragorn went first to Faramir, and then to the Lady Jowyn, and last to 
Merry. When he had looked on the faces of the sick and seen their hurts he 
sighed. 'Here I must put forth all such power and skill as is given to me,' 




he said. 'Would that Elrond were here, for he is the eldest of all our race, 
and has the greater power.' 

And Jomer seeing that he was sorrowful and weary said: 'First you must 
rest, surely, and at the least eat a little?' 

But Aragorn answered: 'Nay, for these three, and most soon for Faramir, 
time is running out. All speed is needed.' 

Then he called to Ioreth and he said: 'You have store in this House of 
the herbs of healing?' 

'Yes, lord,' she answered; 'but not enough, I reckon, for all that will 
need them. But I am sure I do not know where we shall find more; for all 
things are amiss in these dreadful days, what with fires and burnings, and 
the lads that run errands so few, and all the roads blocked. Why, it is days 
out of count since ever a carrier came in from Fossarnach to the market! But 
we do our best in this House with what we have, as I am sure your lordship 
will know.' 

'I will judge that when I see,' said Aragorn. 'One thing also is short 
time for speech. Have you athelasT 

'I do not know, I am sure, lord,' she answered, 'at least not by that 
name. I will go and ask of the herb-master; he knows all the old names.' 

'It is also called kingsfoil,' said Aragorn; 'and maybe you know it by 
that name, for so the country-folk call it in these latter days.' 'Oh that!' 
said Ioreth. 'Well, if your lordship had named it at first I could have told 
you. No, we have none of it, I am sure. Why, I have never heard that it had 
any great virtue; and indeed I have often said to my sisters when we came 
upon it growing in the woods: "kingsfoil" I said, " 'tis a strange name, and 
I wonder why 'tis called so; for if I were a king, I would have plants more 
bright in my garden". Still it smells sweet when bruised, does it not? If 
sweet is the right word: wholesome, maybe, is nearer.' 

'Wholesome verily,' said Aragorn. 'And now, dame, if you love the Ford 
Faramir, run as quick as your tongue and get me kingsfoil, if there is a 
leaf in the City.' 

'And if not,' said Gandalf, 'I will ride to Fossarnach with Ioreth 
behind me, and she shall take me to the woods, but not to her sisters. And 
Shadowfax shall show her the meaning of haste.' 

When Ioreth was gone, Aragorn bade the other women to make water hot. 
Then he took Faramir's hand in his, and laid the other hand upon the sick 
man's brow. It was drenched with sweat; but Faramir did not move or make any 




sign, and seemed hardly to breathe. 

'He is nearly spent,' said Aragorn turning to Gandalf. 'But this comes 
not from the wound. See! that is healing. Had he been smitten by some dart 
of the Nazgyl, as you thought, he would have died that night. This hurt was 
given by some Southron arrow, I would guess. Who drew it forth? Was it 
kept?' 

'I drew it forth,' said Imrahil, 'and staunched the wound. But I did 
not keep the arrow, for we had much to do. It was, as I remember, just such 
a dart as the Southrons use. Yet I believed that it came from the Shadows 
above, for else his fever and sickness were not to be understood; since the 
wound was not deep or vital. How then do you read the matter?' 

'Weariness, grief for his father's mood, a wound, and over all the 
Black Breath,' said Aragorn. 'He is a man of staunch will, for already he 
had come close under the Shadow before ever he rode to battle on the 
out- walls. Slowly the dark must have crept on him, even as he fought and 
strove to hold his outpost. Would that I could have been here sooner!' 

Thereupon the herb-master entered. 'Your lordship asked for kingsfoil, 
as the rustics name it, he said; or athelas in the noble tongue, or to those 
who know somewhat of the Valinorean. . .' 

'I do so,' said Aragorn, 'and I care not whether you say now asla 
aranion or kingsfoil, so long as you have some.' 

'Your pardon lord!' said the man. 'I see you are a lore-master, not 
merely a captain of war. But alas ! sir, we do not keep this thing in the 
Houses of Healing, where only the gravely hurt or sick are tended. For it 
has no virtue that we know of, save perhaps to sweeten a fouled air, or to 
drive away some passing heaviness. Unless, of course, you give heed to 
rhymes of old days which women such as our good Ioreth still repeat without 
understanding. 

When the black breath blows 
and death 's shadow grows 
and all lights pass, 
come athelas! come athelas! 

Life to the dying 
In the king's hand lying! 

It is but a doggrel, I fear, garbled in the memory of old wives. Its 
meaning I leave to your judgement, if indeed it has any. But old folk still 
use an infusion of the herb for headaches.' 




'Then in the name of the king, go and find some old man of less lore 
and more wisdom who keeps some in his house!' cried Gandalf. 

Now Aragorn knelt beside Faramir, and held a hand upon his brow. And 
those that watched felt that some great struggle was going on. For Aragorn's 
face grew grey with weariness; and ever and anon he called the name of 
Faramir, but each time more faintly to their hearing, as if Aragorn himself 
was removed from them, and walked afar in some dark vale, calling for one 
that was lost. 

And at last Bergil came running in, and he bore six leaves in a cloth. 

'It is kingsfoil, Sir,' he said; 'but not fresh, I fear. It must have been 
culled two weeks ago at the least. I hope it will serve, Sir?' Then looking 
at Faramir he burst into tears. 

But Aragorn smiled. 'It will serve,' he said. 'The worst is now over. 

Stay and be comforted!' Then taking two leaves, he laid them on his hands 
and breathed on them, and then he crushed them, and straightway a living 
freshness filled the room, as if the air itself awoke and tingled, sparkling 
with joy. And then he cast the leaves into the bowls of steaming water that 
were brought to him, and at once all hearts were lightened. For the 
fragrance that came to each was like a memory of dewy mornings of 
unshadowed 

sun in some land of which the fair world in Spring is itself but a fleeting 
memory. But Aragorn stood up as one refreshed, and his eyes smiled as he 
held a bowl before Faramir's dreaming face. 

'Well now! Who would have believed it?' said Ioreth to a woman that 
stood beside her. 'The weed is better than I thought. It reminds me of the 
roses of Imloth Melui when I was a lass, and no king could ask for better.' 

Suddenly Faramir stirred, and he opened his eyes, and he looked on 
Aragorn who bent over him; and a light of knowledge and love was kindled in 
his eyes, and he spoke softly. 'My lord, you called me. I come. What does 
the king command?' 

'Walk no more in the shadows, but awake!' said Aragorn. 'You are weary. 
Rest a while, and take food, and be ready when I return.' 

'I will, lord,' said Faramir. 'For who would lie idle when the king has 
returned?' 

'Farewell then for a while!' said Aragorn. 'I must go to others who 
need me.' And he left the chamber with Gandalf and Imrahil; but Beregond and 
his son remained behind, unable to contain their joy. As he followed Gandalf 




and shut the door Pippin heard Ioreth exclaim: 

'King! Did you hear that? What did I say? The hands of a healer, I 
said.’ And soon the word had gone out from the House that the king was 
indeed come among them, and after war he brought healing; and the news ran 
through the City. 

But Aragorn came to Jowyn, and he said: 'Here there is a grievous hurt 
and a heavy blow. The arm that was broken has been tended with due skill, 
and it will mend in time, if she has the strength to live: It is the 
shield-arm that is maimed; but the chief evil comes through the sword-arm. 

In that there now seems no life, although it is unbroken. 

'Alas ! For she was pitted against a foe beyond the strength of her mind 
or body. And those who will take a weapon to such an enemy must be sterner 
than steel, if the very shock shall not destroy them. It was an evil doom 
that set her in his path. For she is a fair maiden, fairest lady of a house 
of queens. And yet I know not how I should speak of her. When I first looked 
on her and perceived her unhappiness, it seemed to me that I saw a white 
flower standing straight and proud, shapely as a lily, and yet knew that it 
was hard, as if wrought by elf-wrights out of steel. Or was it, maybe, a 
frost that had turned its sap to ice, and so it stood, bitter-sweet, still 
fair to see, but stricken, soon to fall and die? Her malady begins far back 
before this day, does it not, Jomer?' 

'I marvel that you should ask me, lord,' he answered. 'For I hold you 
blameless in this matter, as in all else; yet I knew not that Jowyn, my 
sister, was touched by any frost, until she first looked on you. Care and 
dread she had, and shared with me, in the days of Wormtongue and the king's 
bewitchment; and she tended the king in growing fear. But that did not bring 
her to this pass!' 

'My friend,' said Gandalf, 'you had horses, and deeds of arms, and the 
free fields; but she, born in the body of a maid, had a spirit and courage 
at least the match of yours. Yet she was doomed to wait upon an old man, 
whom she loved as a father, and watch him falling into a mean dishonoured 
dotage; and her part seemed to her more ignoble than that of the staff he 
leaned on. 

'Think you that Wormtongue had poison only for Thjoden's ears? Dotard ! 
What is the house of Eorl but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the 
reek, and their brats roll on the floor among their dogs? Have you not heard 




those words before? Saruman spoke them, the teacher of Wormtongue. Though 

I 

do not doubt that Wormtongue at home wrapped their meaning in terms 
more 

cunning. My lord, if your sister's love for you, and her will still bent to 
her duty, had not restrained her lips; you might have heard even such things 
as these escape them. But who knows what she spoke to the darkness, alone, 
in the bitter watches of the night, when all her life seemed shrinking, and 
the walls of her bower closing in about her, a hutch to trammel some wild 
thing in?' 

Then Jomer was silent, and looked on his sister, as if pondering anew 
all the days of their past life together. But Aragorn said: 'I saw also what 
you saw, Jomer. Few other griefs amid the ill chances of this world have 
more bitterness and shame for a man's heart than to behold the love of a 
lady so fair and brave that cannot be returned Sorrow and pity have followed 
me ever since I left her desperate in Dunharrow and rode to the Paths of the 
Dead; and no fear upon that way was so present as the fear for what might 
befall her. And yet, Jomer, I say to you that she loves you more truly than 
me; for you she loves and knows; but in me she loves only a shadow and a 
thought: a hope of glory and great deeds, and lands far from the fields of 
Rohan. 

'I have, maybe, the power to heal her body, and to recall her from the 
dark valley. But to what she will awake: hope, or forgetfulness, or despair, 

I do not know. And if to despair, then she will die, unless other healing 
comes which I cannot bring. Alas! for her deeds have set her among the 
queens of great renown.' 

Then Aragorn stooped and looked in her face, and it was indeed white as 
a lily, cold as frost, and hard as graven stone. But he bent and kissed her 
on the brow, and called her softly, saying: 

'Jowyn Jomund's daughter, awake! For your enemy has passed away!' 

She did not stir, but now she began again to breathe deeply, so that 
her breast rose and fell beneath the white linen of the sheet. Once more 
Aragorn bruised two leaves of athelas and cast them into steaming water; and 
he laved her brow with it, and her right arm lying cold and nerveless on the 
coverlet. 

Then, whether Aragorn had indeed some forgotten power of Westernesse, 
or whether it was but his words of the Lady Jowyn that wrought on them, as 




the sweet influence of the herb stole about the chamber it seemed to those 
who stood by that a keen wind blew through the window, and it bore no scent, 
but was an air wholly fresh and clean and young, as if it had not before 
been breathed by any living thing and came new-made from snowy 
mountains 

high beneath a dome of stars, or from shores of silver far away washed by 
seas of foam. 

'Awake, Jowyn, Lady of Rohan!' said Aragorn again, and he took her 
right hand in his and felt it warm with life returning. 'Awake! The shadow 
is gone and all darkness is washed clean!' Then he laid her hand in Jomer's 
and stepped away. 'Call her!' he said, and he passed silently from the 
chamber. 

'Jowyn, Jowyn!' cried Jomer amid his tears. But she opened her eyes and 
said: 'Jomer! What joy is this? For they said that you were slain. Nay, but 
that was only the dark voices in my dream. How long have I been dreaming?' 

'Not long, my sister,' said Jomer. 'But think no more on it!' 

' I am strangely weary,' she said. 'I must rest a little. But tell me, 
what of the Lord of the Mark? Alas! Do not tell me that that was a dream for 
I know that it was not. He is dead as he foresaw.' 

'He is dead,' said Jomer, 'but he bade me say farewell to Jowyn dearer 
than daughter. He lies now in great honour in the Citadel of Gondor.' 

'That is grievous,' she said. 'And yet it is good beyond all that I 
dared hope in the dark days, when it seemed that the House of Eorl was sunk 
in honour less than any shepherd's cot. And what of the king's esquire, the 
Halfling? Jomer, you shall make him a knight of the Riddermark, for he is 
valiant!' 

'He lies nearby in this House, and I will go to him,' said Gandalf. 

'Jomer shall stay here for a while. But do not speak yet of war or woe, 
until you are made whole again. Great gladness it is to see you wake again 
to health and hope, so valiant a lady!' 

'To health?' said Jowyn. It may be so. At least while there is an 
empty saddle of some fallen Rider that I can fill, and there are deeds to 
do. But to hope? I do not know.' 

Gandalf and Pippin came to Merry's room, and there they found Aragorn 
standing by the bed. 'Poor old Merry!' cried Pippin, and he ran to the 
bedside, for it seemed to him that his friend looked worse, and a greyness 
was in his face, as if a weight of years of sorrow lay on him; and suddenly 




a fear seized Pippin that Merry would die. 

'Do not be afraid,' said Aragorn. 'I came in time, and I have called 
him back. He is weary now, and grieved, and he has taken a hurt like the 
Lady Jowyn, daring to smite that deadly thing. But these evils can be 
amended, so strong and gay a spirit is in him. His grief he will not forget; 
but it will not darken his heart, it will teach him wisdom.' 

Then Aragorn laid his hand on Merry's head, and passing his hand gently 
through the brown curls, he touched the eyelids, and called him by name. And 
when the fragrance of athelas stole through the room, like the scent of 
orchards, and of heather in the sunshine full of bees, suddenly Merry awoke, 
and he said: 

'I am hungry. What is the time?' 

'Past supper-time now,' said Pippin; 'though I daresay I could bring 
you something, if they will let me.' 

'They will indeed,' said Gandalf. 'And anything else that this Rider of 
Rohan may desire, if it can be found in Minas Tirith, where his name is in 
honour.' 

'Good!' said Merry. 'Then I would like supper first, and after that a 
pipe.' At that his face clouded. 'No, not a pipe. I don't think I'll smoke 
again.' 

'Why not?' said Pippin. 

'Well,' answered Merry slowly. 'He is dead. It has brought it all back 
to me. He said he was sorry he had never had a chance of talking herb-lore 
with me. Almost the last thing he ever said. I shan't ever be able to smoke 
again without thinking of him, and that day, Pippin, when he rode up to 
Isengard and was so polite.' 

'Smoke then, and think of him!' said Aragorn. 'For he was a gentle 
heart and a great king and kept his oaths; and he rose out of the shadows to 
a last fair morning. Though your service to him was brief, it should be a 
memory glad and honourable to the end of your days.' 

Merry smiled. 'Well then,' he said, 'if Strider will provide what is 
needed, I will smoke and think. I had some of Saruman's best in my pack, but 
what became of it in the battle, I am sure I don't know.' 

'Master Meriadoc,' said Aragorn, 'if you think that I have passed 
through the mountains and the realm of Gondor with fire and sword to bring 
herbs to a careless soldier who throws away his gear, you are mistaken. If 
your pack has not been found, then you must send for the herb-master of this 




House. And he will tell you that he did not know that the herb you desire 
had any virtues, but that it is called westmansweed by the vulgar, and 
galenas by the noble, and other names in other tongues more learned, and 
after adding a few half-forgotten rhymes that he does not understand, he 
will regretfully inform you that there is none in the House, and he will 
leave you to reflect on the history of tongues. And so now must I. For I 
have not slept in such a bed as this, since I rode from Dunharrow, nor eaten 
since the dark before dawn.' 

Merry seized his hand and kissed it. 'I am frightfully sorry,' he said. 

'Go at once! Ever since that night at Bree we have been a nuisance to you. 

But it is the way of my people to use light words at such times and say less 
than they mean. We fear to say too much. It robs us of the right words when 
a jest is out of place.' 

'I know that well, or I would not deal with you in the same way ' said 
Aragorn. 'May the Shire live for ever unwithered!' And kissing Merry he went 
out, and Gandalf went with him. 

Pippin remained behind. 'Was there ever any one like him?' he said. 
'Except Gandalf, of course. I think they must be related. My dear ass, your 
pack is lying by your bed, and you had it on your back when I met you. He 
saw it all the time, of course. And anyway I have some stuff of my own. Come 
on now! Longbottom Leaf it is. Fill up while I run and see about some food. 
And then let' s be easy for a bit. Dear me! We Tooks and Brandybucks, we 
can't live long on the heights.' 

'No,' said Merry. 'I can't. Not yet, at any rate. But at least, Pippin, 
we can now see them, and honour them. It is best to love first what you are 
fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots, and 
the soil of the Shire is deep. Still there are things deeper and higher; and 
not a gaffer could tend his garden in what he calls peace but for them, 
whether he knows about them or not. I am glad that I know about them, a 
little. But I don't know why I am talking like this. Where is that leaf? And 
get my pipe out of my pack, if it isn't broken.' 

Aragorn and Gandalf went now to the Warden of the Houses of Healing, 
and they counselled him that Faramir and Jowyn should remain there and still 
be tended with care for many days. 

'The Lady Jowyn,' said Aragorn, 'will wish soon to rise and depart; but 
she should not be permitted to do so, if you can in any way restrain her, 
until at least ten days be passed.' 




'As for Faramir,' said Gandalf, 'he must soon learn that his father is 
dead. But the full tale of the madness of Denethor should not be told to 
him, until he is quite healed and has duties to do. See that Beregond and 
the perian who were present do not speak to him of these things yet!' 

And the other perian Meriadoc who is under my care, what of him?' said 
the Warden. 

'It is likely that he will be fit to arise tomorrow, for a short 
while,' said Aragorn. 'Let him do so, if he wishes. He may walk a little in 
the care of his friends.' 

'They are a remarkable race,' said the Warden, nodding his head. 'Very 
tough in the fibre, I deem.' 

At the doors of the Houses many were already gathered to see Aragorn, 
and they followed after him; and when at last he had supped, men came and 
prayed that he would heal their kinsmen or their friends whose lives were in 
peril through hurt or wound, or who lay under the Black Shadow. And 
Aragorn 

arose and went out, and he sent for the sons of Elrond, and together they 
laboured far into the night. And word went through the City: 'The King is 
come again indeed.' And they named him Elfstone, because of the green stone 
that he wore, and so the name which it was foretold at his birth that he 
should bear was chosen for him by his own people. 

And when he could labour no more, he cast his cloak about him, and 
slipped out of the City, and went to his tent just ere dawn and slept for a 
little. And in the morning the banner of Dol Amroth, a white ship like a 
swan upon blue water, floated from the Tower, and men looked up and 
wondered 

if the coming of the King had been but a dream. 




Chapter 9. The Last Debate 



The morning came after the day of battle, and it was fair with light 
clouds and the wind turning westward. Legolas and Gimli were early abroad, 
and they begged leave to go up into the City; for they were eager to see 
Merry and Pippin. 

'It is good to learn that they are still alive,' said Gimli; 'for they 
cost us great pains in our march over Rohan, and I would not have such pains 
all wasted.' 

Together the Elf and the Dwarf entered Minas Tirith, and folk that saw 
them pass marvelled to see such companions; for Legolas was fair of face 
beyond the measure of Men, and he sang an elven-song in a clear voice as he 
walked in the morning; but Gimli stalked beside him, stroking his beard and 
staring about him. 

'There is some good stone-work here,' he said as he looked at the 
walls; 'but also some that is less good, and the streets could be better 
contrived. When Aragorn comes into his own, I shall offer him the service of 
stone wrights of the Mountain, and we will make this a town to be proud of.' 

'They need more gardens,' said Legolas. 'The houses are dead, and there 
is too little here that grows and is glad. If Aragorn comes into his own, 
the people of the Wood shall bring him birds that sing and trees that do not 
die.' 

At length they came to the Prince Imrahil, and Legolas looked at him 
and bowed low; for he saw that here indeed was one who had elven-blood in 
his veins. 'Hail, lord!' he said. 'It is long since the people of Nimrodel 
left the woodlands of Lurien, and yet still one may see that not all sailed 
from Amroth's haven west over water.' 

'So it is said in the lore of my land,' said the Prince; 'yet never has 
one of the fair folk been seen there for years beyond count. And I marvel to 
see one here now in the midst of sorrow and war. What do you seek?' 

'I am one of the Nine Companions who set out with Mithrandir from 
Imladris, said Legolas and with this Dwarf, my friend, I came with the Lord 
Aragorn. But now we wish to see our friends. Meriadoc and Peregrin, who are 
in your keeping, we are told.' 

'You will find them in the Houses of Healing, and I will lead you 




thither,' said Imrahil. 

'It will be enough if you send one to guide us, lord,' said Legolas. 

'For Aragorn sends this message to you. He does not wish to enter the City 
again at this time. Yet there is need for the captains to hold council at 
once, and he prays that you and Jomer of Rohan will come down to his tents, 
as soon as may be. Mithrandir is already there.' 

'We will come,' said Imrahil; and they parted with courteous words. 

'That is a fair lord and a great captain of men,' said Legolas. 'If 
Gondor has such men still in these days of fading, great must have been its 
glory in the days of its rising.' 

'And doubtless the good stone-work is the older and was wrought in the 
first building,' said Gimli. 'It is ever so with the things that Men begin: 
there is a frost in Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their 
promise.' 

'Yet seldom do they fail of their seed,' said Legolas. 'And that will 
lie in the dust and rot to spring up again in times and places unlooked-for. 

The deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli.' 

'And yet come to naught in the end but might-have-beens, I guess,' said 
the Dwarf. 

'To that the Elves know not the answer,' said Legolas. 

With that the servant of the Prince came and led them to the Houses of 
Healing; and there they found their friends in the garden, and their meeting 
was a merry one. For a while they walked and talked, rejoicing for a brief 
space in peace and rest under the morning high up in the windy circles of 
the City. Then when Merry became weary, they went and sat upon the wall 
with 

the greensward of the Houses of Healing behind them; and away southward 
before them was the Anduin glittering in the sun, as it flowed away, out of 
the sight even of Legolas, into the wide flats and green haze of Lebennin 
and South Ithilien. 

And now Legolas fell silent, while the others talked, and he looked out 
against the sun, and as he gazed he saw white sea-birds beating up the 
River. 

'Look!' he cried. 'Gulls! They are flying far inland. A wonder they are 
to me and a trouble to my heart. Never in all my life had I met them, until 
we came to Pelargir, and there I heard them crying in the air as we rode to 
the battle of the ships. Then I stood still, forgetting war in Middle-earth; 




for their wailing voices spoke to me of the Sea. The Sea! Alas! I have not 
yet beheld it. But deep in the hearts of all my kindred lies the 
sea-longing, which it is perilous to stir. Alas! for the gulls. No peace 
shall I have again under beech or under elm.' 

’Say not so!' said Gimli. 'There are countless things still to see in 
Middle-earth, and great works to do. But if all the fair folk take to the 
Havens, it will be a duller world for those who are doomed to stay.' 

'Dull and dreary indeed!' said Merry: 'You must not go to the Havens, 
Legolas. There will always be some folk, big or little, and even a few wise 
dwarves like Gimli, who need you. At least I hope so. Though I feel somehow 
that the worst of this war is still to come. How I wish it was all over, and 
well over!' 

'Don't be so gloomy!' cried Pippin. 'The Sun is shining, and here we 
are together for a day or two at least. I want to hear more about you all. 

Come, Gimli! You and Legolas have mentioned your strange journey with 
Strider about a dozen times already this morning. But you haven't told me 
anything about it.' 

'The Sun may shine here,' said Gimli, 'but there are memories of that 
road that I do not wish to recall out of the darkness. Had I known what was 
before me, I think that not for any friendship would I have taken the Paths 
of the Dead.' 

'The Paths of the Dead?' said Pippin. 'I heard Aragorn say that and I 
wondered what he could mean. Won't you tell us some more?' 

'Not willingly,' said Gimli. 'For upon that road I was put to shame: 

Gimli Gluin's son, who had deemed himself more tough than Men, and 
hardier 

under earth than any Elf. But neither did I prove; and I was held to the 
road only by the will of Aragorn.' 

'And by the love of him also,' said Legolas. 'For all those who come to 
know him come to love him after his own fashion, even the cold maiden of the 
Rohirrim. It was at early morn of the day ere you came there, Merry, that we 
left Dunharrow, and such a fear was on all the folk that none would look on 
our going, save the Lady Jowyn, who lies now hurt in the House below. There 
was grief at that parting, and I was grieved to behold it.' 

'Alas! I had heart only for myself,' said Gimli. 'Nay! I will not speak 
of that journey.' 

He fell silent; but Pippin and Merry were so eager for news that at 




last Legolas said: 'I will tell you enough for your peace; for I felt not 
the horror, and I feared not the shadows of Men, powerless and frail as I 
deemed them.' 

Swiftly then he told of the haunted road under the mountains, and the 
dark tryst at Erech, and the great ride thence, ninety leagues and three, to 
Pelargir on Anduin. 'Four days and nights, and on into a fifth, we rode from 
the Black Stone,' he said. 'And lo! in the darkness of Mordor my hope rose; 
for in that gloom the Shadow Host seemed to grow stronger and more terrible 
to look upon. Some I saw riding, some striding, yet all moving with the same 
great speed. Silent they were, but there was a gleam in their eyes. In the 
uplands of Lamedon they overtook our horses, and swept round us, and would 
have passed us by, if Aragorn had not forbidden them. 

'At his command they fell back. "Even the shades of Men are obedient to 
his will," I thought. "They may serve his needs yet! " 

'One day of light we rode, and then came the day without dawn, and 
still we rode on, and Ciril and Ringlu we crossed; and on the third day we 
came to Linhir above the mouth of Gilrain. And there men of Lamedon 
contested the fords with fell folk of Umbar and Harad who had sailed up the 
river. But defenders and foes alike gave up the battle and fled when we 
came, crying out that the King of the Dead was upon them. Only Angbor, Lord 
of Lamedon, had the heart to abide us; and Aragorn bade him gather his folk 
and come behind, if they dared, when the Grey Host had passed. 

' "At Pelargir the Heir of Isildur will have need of you," he said. 

'Thus we crossed over Gilrain, driving the allies of Mordor in rout 
before us; and then we rested a while. But soon Aragorn arose, saying: "Lo! 
already Minas Tirith is assailed. I fear that it will fall ere we come to 
its aid." So we mounted again before night had passed and went on with all 
the speed that our horses could endure over the plains of Lebennin.' 

Legolas paused and sighed, and turning his eyes southward softly he 
sang: 

Silver flow the streams from Celos to Erui 
In the green fields of Lebennin! 

Tall grows the grass there. In the wind from the Sea 
The white lilies sway, 

And the golden bells are shaken of mallos and alfirin 
In the green fields of Lebennin, 

In the wind from the Sea! 




'Green are those fields in the songs of my people; but they were dark 
then, grey wastes in the blackness before us. And over the wide land, 
trampling unheeded the grass and the flowers, we hunted our foes through a 
day and a night, until we came at the bitter end to the Great River at last. 

Then I thought in my heart that we drew near to the Sea; for wide was 
the water in the darkness, and sea-birds innumerable cried on its, shores. 

Alas for the wailing of the gulls ! Did not the Lady tell me to beware of 
them? And now I cannot forget them.' 

’For my part I heeded them not,' said Gimli; 'for we came then at last 
upon battle in earnest. There at Pelargir lay the main fleet of Umbar, fifty 
great ships and smaller vessels beyond count. Many of those that we pursued 
had reached the havens before us, and brought their fear with them; and some 
of the ships had put off, seeking to escape down the River or to reach the 
far shore; and many of the smaller craft were ablaze. But the Haradrim, 
being now driven to the brink, turned at bay, and they were fierce in 
despair; and they laughed when they looked on us, for they were a great army 
still. 

'But Aragorn halted and cried with a great voice: "Now come! By the 
Black Stone I call you! " And suddenly the Shadow Host that had hung back at 
the last came up like a grey tide, sweeping all away before it. Faint cries 
I heard, and dim horns blowing, and a murmur as of countless far voices: it 
was like the echo of some forgotten battle in the Dark Years long ago. Pale 
swords were drawn; but I know not whether their blades would still bite, for 
the Dead needed no longer any weapon but fear. None would withstand them. 

'To every ship they came that was drawn up, and then they passed over 
the water to those that were anchored; and all the mariners were filled with 
a madness of terror and leaped overboard, save the slaves chained to the 
oars. Reckless we rode among our fleeing foes, driving them like leaves, 
until we came to the shore. And then to each of the great ships that 
remained Aragorn sent one of the D®nedain, and they comforted the captives 
that were aboard, and bade them put aside fear and be free. 

'Ere that dark day ended none of the enemy were left to resist us all 
were drowned, or were flying south in the hope to find their own lands upon 
foot. Strange and wonderful I thought it that the designs of Mordor should 
be overthrown by such wraiths of fear and darkness. With its own weapons was 
it worsted!' 

'Strange indeed,' said Legolas. 'In that hour I looked on Aragorn and 




thought how great and terrible a Lord he might have become in the strength 
of his will, had he taken the Ring to himself. Not for naught does Mordor 
fear him. But nobler is his spirit than the understanding of Sauron; for is 
he not of the children of L®thien? Never shall that line fail, though the 
years may lengthen beyond count.' 

'Beyond the eyes of the Dwarves are such foretellings,' said Gimli. 

'But mighty indeed was Aragorn that day. Lo! all the black fleet was in his 
hands; and he chose the greatest ship to be his own, and he went up into it. 
Then he let sound a great concourse of trumpets taken from the enemy; and 
the Shadow Host withdrew to the shore. There they stood silent, hardly to be 
seen, save for a red gleam in their eyes that caught the glare of the ships 
that were burning. And Aragorn spoke in a loud voice to the Dead Men, 
crying: 

' "Hear now the words of the Heir of Isildur! Your oath is fulfilled. 

Go back and trouble not the valleys ever again! Depart and be at rest! " 

'And thereupon the King of the Dead stood out before the host and broke 
his spear and cast it down. Then he bowed low and turned away; and swiftly 
the whole grey host drew off and vanished like a mist that is driven back by 
a sudden wind; and it seemed to me that I awoke from a dream. 

'That night we rested while others laboured. For there were many 
captives set free, and many slaves released who had been folk of Gondor 
taken in raids; and soon also there was a great gathering of men out of 
Lebennin and the Ethir, and Angbor of Lamedon came up with all the 
horsemen 

that he could muster. Now that the fear of the Dead was removed they came to 
aid us and to look on the Heir of Isildur; for the rumour of that name had 
run like fire in the dark. 

'And that is near the end of our tale. For during that evening and 
night many ships were made ready and manned; and in the morning the fleet 
set forth. Long past it now seems, yet it was but the morn of the day ere 
yesterday, the sixth since we rode from Dunharrow. But still Aragorn was 
driven by fear that time was too short. 

' "It is forty leagues and two from Pelargir to the landings at the 
Harlond," he said. "Yet to the Harlond we must come tomorrow or fail 
utterly." 

'The oars were now wielded by free men, and manfully they laboured; yet 
slowly we passed up the Great River, for we strove against its stream, and 




though that is not swift down in the South, we had no help of wind. Heavy 
would my heart have been, for all our victory at the havens, if Legolas had 
not laughed suddenly. 

' "Up with your beard, Durin's son! " he said. "For thus is it spoken: 

Oft hope is born, when all is forlorn." But what hope he saw from afar he 
would not tell. When night came it did but deepen the darkness, and our 
hearts were hot, for away in the North we saw a red glow under the cloud, 
and Aragorn said: "Minas Tirith is burning." 

’But at midnight hope was indeed born anew. Sea -crafty men of the Ethir 
gazing southward spoke of a change coming with a fresh wind from the Sea. 
Long ere day the masted ships hoisted sail; and our speed grew, until dawn 
whitened the foam at our prows. And so it was, as you know, that we came in 
the third hour of the morning with a fair wind and the Sun unveiled, and we 
unfurled the great standard in battle. It was a great day and a great hour, 
whatever may come after.' 

’Follow what may, great deeds are not lessened in worth,' said Legolas. 
’Great deed was the riding of the Paths of the Dead, and great it shall 
remain, though none be left in Gondor to sing of it in the days that are to 
come.' 

'And that may well befall,' said Gimli. 'For the faces of Aragorn and 
Gandalf are grave. Much I wonder what counsels they are taking in the tents 
there below. For my part, like Merry, I wish that with our victory the war 
was now over. Yet whatever is still to do, I hope to have a part in it, for 
the honour of the folk of the Lonely Mountain.' 

'And I for the folk of the Great Wood,' said Legolas, 'and for the love 
of the Lord of the White Tree.' 

Then the companions fell silent, but a while they sat there in the high 
place, each busy with his own thoughts, while the Captains debated. 

When the Prince Imrahil had parted from Legolas and Gimli, at once he 
sent for Jomer; and he went down with him from the City, and they came to 
the tents of Aragorn that were set up on the field not far from the place 
where King Thjoden had fallen. And there they took counsel together with 
Gandalf and Aragorn and the sons of Elrond. 

'My lords,' said Gandalf, 'listen to the words of the Steward of Gondor 
before he died: You may triumph on the fields of the Pelennor for a day, but 
against the Power that has now arisen there is no victory. I do not bid you 
despair, as he did, but to ponder the truth in these words. 




The Stones of Seeing do not lie, and not even the Lord of Barad-dyr 
can make them do so. He can, maybe, by his will choose what things shall be 
seen by weaker minds, or cause them to mistake the meaning of what they see. 
Nonetheless it cannot be doubted that when Denethor saw great forces arrayed 
against him in Mordor, and more still being gathered, he saw that which 
truly is. 

'Hardly has our strength sufficed to beat off the first great assault. 

The next will be greater. This war then is without final hope, as Denethor 
perceived. Victory cannot be achieved by arms, whether you sit here to 
endure siege after siege, or march out to be overwhelmed beyond the River. 
You have only a choice of evils; and prudence would counsel you to 
strengthen such strong places as you have, and there await the onset; for so 
shall the time before your end be made a little longer.' 

'Then you would have us retreat to Minas Tirith, or Dol Amroth, or to 
Dunharrow, and there sit like children on sand-castles when the tide is 
flowing?' said Imrahil. 

'That would be no new counsel,' said Gandalf. 'Have you not done this 
and little more in all the days of Denethor? But no! I said this would be 
prudent. I do not counsel prudence. I said victory could not be achieved by 
arms. I still hope for victory, but not by arms. For into the midst of all 
these policies comes the Ring of Power, the foundation of Barad-dyr, and the 
hope of Sauron. 

'Concerning this thing, my lords, you now all know enough for the 
understanding of our plight, and of Sauron' s. If he regains it, your valour 
is vain, and his victory will be swift and complete: so complete that none 
can foresee the end of it while this world lasts. If it is destroyed, then 
he will fall; and his fall will be so low that none can foresee his arising 
ever again. For he will lose the best part of the strength that was native 
to him in his beginning, and all that was made or begun with that power will 
crumble, and he will be maimed for ever, becoming a mere spirit of malice 
that gnaws itself in the shadows, but cannot again grow or take shape. And 
so a great evil of this world will be removed. 

'Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a 
servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the 
world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are 
set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live 
after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours 




to rule. 

'Now Sauron knows all this, and he knows that this precious thing which 
he lost has been found again; but he does not yet know where it is, or so we 
hope. And therefore he is now in great doubt. For if we have found this 
thing, there are some among us with strength enough to wield it. That too he 
knows. For do I not guess rightly, Aragorn, that you have shown yourself to 
him in the Stone of Orthanc?' 

'I did so ere I rode from the Flornburg,' answered Aragorn. 'I deemed 
that the time was ripe, and that the Stone had come to me for just such a 
purpose. It was then ten days since the Ring-bearer went east from Rauros, 
and the Eye of Sauron, I thought, should be drawn out from his own land. Too 
seldom has he been challenged since he returned to his Tower. Though if I 
had foreseen how swift would be his onset in answer, maybe I should not have 
dared to show myself. Bare time was given me to come to your aid.' 

'But how is this?' asked Jomer. 'All is vain, you say, if he has the 
Ring. Why should he think it not vain to assail us, if we have it?' 

'He is not yet sure,' said Gandalf, 'and he has not built up his power 
by waiting until his enemies are secure, as we have done. Also we could not 
learn how to wield the full power all in a day. Indeed it can be used only 
by one master alone, not by many; and he will look for a time of strife, ere 
one of the great among us makes himself master and puts down the others. In 
that time the Ring might aid him, if he were sudden. 

'He is watching. He sees much and hears much. His Nazgyl are still 
abroad. They passed over this field ere the sunrise, though few of the weary 
and sleeping were aware of them. He studies the signs: the Sword that robbed 
him of his treasure re-made; the winds of fortune turning in our favour, and 
the defeat unlooked-for of his first assault the fall of his great Captain. 

'His doubt will be growing, even as we speak here. His Eye is now 
straining towards us, blind almost to all else that is moving. So we must 
keep it. Therein lies all our hope. This, then, is my counsel. We have not 
the Ring. In wisdom or great folly it has been sent away to be destroyed, 
lest it destroy us. Without it we cannot by force defeat his force. But we 
must at all costs keep his Eye from his true peril. We cannot achieve 
victory by arms, but by arms we can give the Ring-bearer his only chance, 
frail though it be. 

'As Aragorn has begun, so we must go on. We must push Sauron to his 
last throw. We must call out his hidden strength, so that he shall empty his 




land. We must march out to meet him at once. We must make ourselves the 
bait, though his jaws should close on us. He will take that bait, in hope 
and in greed, for he will think that in such rashness he sees the pride of 
the new Ringlord: and he will say: "So! he pushes out his neck too soon and 
too far. Let him come on, and behold I will have him in a trap from which he 
cannot escape. There I will crush him, and what he has taken in his 
insolence shall be mine again for ever." 

'We must walk open-eyed into that trap, with courage, but small hope 
for ourselves. For, my lords, it may well prove that we ourselves shall 
perish utterly in a black battle far from the living lands; so that even if 
Barad-dyr be thrown down, we shall not live to see a new age. But this, I 
deem, is our duty. And better so than to perish nonetheless - as we surely 
shall, if we sit here - and know as we die that no new age shall be.' 

They were silent for a while. At length Aragorn spoke. 'As I have 
begun, so I will go on. We come now to the very brink, where hope and 
despair are akin. To waver is to fall. Let none now reject the counsels of 
Gandalf, whose long labours against Sauron come at last to their test. But 
for him all would long ago have been lost. Nonetheless I do not yet claim to 
command any man. Let others choose as they will.' 

Then said Elrohir: 'From the North we came with this purpose, and from 
Elrond our father we brought this very counsel. We will not turn back.' 

'As for myself,' said Jomer, 'I have little knowledge of these deep 
matters; but I need it not. This I know, and it is enough, that as my friend 
Aragorn succoured me and my people, so I will aid him when he calls. I will 

go-’ 

'As for me,' said Imrahil, 'the Lord Aragorn I hold to be my 
liege-lord, whether he claim it or no. His wish is to me a command. I will 
go also. Yet for a while I stand in the place of the Steward of Gondor, and 
it is mine to think first of its people. To prudence some heed must still be 
given. For we must prepare against all chances, good as well as evil. Now, 
it may be that we shall triumph, and while there is any hope of this, Gondor 
must be protected. I would not have us return with victory to a City in 
ruins and a land ravaged behind us. And yet we learn from the Rohirrim that 
there is an army still unfought upon our northern flank.' 

'That is true,' said Gandalf. 'I do not counsel you to leave the City 
all unmanned. Indeed the force that we lead east need not be great enough 
for any assault in earnest upon Mordor, so long as it be great enough to 




challenge battle. And it must move soon. Therefore I ask the Captains: what 
force could we muster and lead out in two days' time at the latest? And they 
must be hardy men that go willingly, knowing their peril.' 

'All are weary, and very many have wounds light or grievous,' said 
Jomer, 'and we have suffered much loss of our horses, and that is ill to 
bear. If we must ride soon, then I cannot hope to lead even two thousands, 
and yet leave as many for the defence of the City.' 

'We have not only to reckon with those who fought on this field ' said 
Aragorn. 'New strength is on the way from the southern fiefs, now that the 
coasts have been rid. Four thousands I sent marching from Pelargir through 
Lossarnach two days ago; and Angbor the fearless rides before them. If we 
set out in two days more, they will draw nigh ere we depart. Moreover many 
were bidden to follow me up the River in any craft they could gather; and 
with this wind they will soon be at hand, indeed several ships have already 
come to the Harlond. I judge that we could lead out seven thousands of horse 
and foot, and yet leave the City in better defence than it was when the 
assault began.' 

'The Gate is destroyed,' said Imrahil, 'and where now is the skill to 
rebuild it and set it up anew?' 

'In Erebor in the Kingdom of Dbin there is such skill,' said Aragorn; 

'and if all our hopes do not perish, then in time I will send Gimli Gluin's 
son to ask for wrights of the Mountain. But men are better than gates, and 
no gate will endure against our Enemy if men desert it.' 

This then was the end of the debate of the lords: that they should set 
forth on the second morning from that day with seven thousands, if these 
might be found; and the great part of this force should be on foot, because 
of the evil lands into which they would go. Aragorn should find some two 
thousands of those that he had gathered to him in the South; but Imrahil 
should find three and a half thousands; and Jomer five hundreds of the 
Rohirrim who were unhorsed but themselves warworthy, and he himself 
should 

lead five hundreds of his best Riders on horse; and another company of five 
hundred horse there should be, among which should ride the sons of Elrond 
with the D®nedain and the knights of Dol Amroth: all told six thousand foot 
and a thousand horse. But the main strength of the Rohirrim that remained 
horsed and able to fight, some three thousand under the command of Elfhelm, 
should waylay the West Road against the enemy that was in Anurien. And at 




once swift riders were sent out to gather what news they could northwards; 
and eastwards from Osgiliath and the road to Minas Morgul. 

And when they had reckoned up all their strength and taken thought for 
the journeys they should make and the roads they should choose, Imrahil 
suddenly laughed aloud. 

’Surely,' he cried, 'this is the greatest jest in all the history of 
Gondor: that we should ride with seven thousands, scarce as many as the 
vanguard of its army in the days of its power, to assail the mountains and 
the impenetrable gate of the Black Land! So might a child threaten a 
mail-clad knight with a bow of string and green willow! If the Dark Lord 
knows so much as you say, Mithrandir, will he not rather smile than fear, 
and with his little finger crush us like a fly that tries to sting him?' 

'No, he will try to trap the fly and take the sting,' said Gandalf. 

'And there are names among us that are worth more than a thousand mail-clad 
knights apiece. No, he will not smile.' 

'Neither shall we,' said Aragorn. 'If this be jest, then it is too 
bitter for laughter. Nay, it is the last move in a great jeopardy, and for 
one side or the other it will bring the end of the game.' Then he drew 
And®ril and held it up glittering in the sun. 'You shall not be sheathed 
again until the last battle is fought;' he said. 




Chapter 10. The Black Gate Opens 



Two days later the army of the West was all assembled on the Pelennor. 
The host of Ores and Easterlings had turned back out of Anurien, but harried 
and scattered by the Rohirrim they had broken and fled with little fighting 
towards Cair Andros; and with that threat destroyed and new strength 
arriving out of the South the City was as well manned as might be. Scouts 
reported that no enemies remained upon the roads east as far as the 
Cross-roads of the Fallen King. All now was ready for the last throw. 

Legolas and Gimli were to ride again together in the company of Aragorn 
and Gandalf, who went in the van with the D®nedain and the sons of Elrond. 
But Merry to his shame was not to go with them. 

'You are not fit for such a journey,' said Aragorn. 'But do not be 
ashamed. If you do no more in this war, you have already earned great 
honour. Peregrin shall go and represent the Shirefolk; and do not grudge him 
his chance of peril, for though he has done as well as his fortune allowed 
him, he has yet to match your deed. But in truth all now are in like danger. 
Though it may be our part to find bitter end before the Gate of Mordor, if 
we do so, then you will come also to a last stand, either here or wherever 
the black tide overtakes you. Farewell!' 

And so despondently Merry now stood and watched the mustering of the 
army. Bergil was with him, and he also was downcast; for his father was to 
march leading a company of the Men of the City: he could not rejoin the 
Guard until his case was judged. In that same company Pippin was also to go, 
as a soldier of Gondor. Merry could see him not far off, a small but upright 
figure among the tall men of Minas Tirith. 

At last the trumpets rang and the army began to move. Troop by troop, 
and company by company, they wheeled and went off eastward. And long 
after 

they had passed away out of sight down the great road to the Causeway, Merry 
stood there. The last glint of the morning sun on spear and helm twinkled 
and was lost, and still he remained with bowed head and heavy heart, feeling 
friendless and alone. Everyone that he cared for had gone away into the 
gloom that hung over the distant eastern sky; and little hope at all was 
left in his heart that he would ever see any of them again. 




As if recalled by his mood of despair, the pain in his arm returned, 
and he felt weak and old, and the sunlight seemed thin. He was roused by the 
touch of Bergil's hand. 

’Come, Master Perian!' said the lad. 'You are still in pain, I see. I 
will help you back to the Healers. But do not fear! They will come back. The 
Men of Minas Tirith will never be overcome. And now they have the Lord 
Elf stone, and Beregond of the Guard too.' 

Ere noon the army came to Osgiliath. There all the workers and 
craftsmen that could be spared were busy. Some were strengthening the 
ferries and boat-bridges that the enemy had made and in part destroyed when 
they fled; some gathered stores and booty; and others on the eastern side 
across the River were throwing up hasty works of defence. 

The vanguard passed on through the ruins of Old Gondor, and over the 
wide River, and on up the long straight road that in the high days had been 
made to run from the fair Tower of the Sun to the tall Tower of the Moon, 
which now was Minas Morgul in its accursed vale. Five miles beyond Osgiliath 
they halted, ending their first day's march. 

But the horsemen pressed on and ere evening they came to the 
Cross-roads and the great ring of trees, and all was silent. No sign of any 
enemy had they seen, no cry or call had been heard, no shaft had sped from 
rock or thicket by the way, yet ever as they went forward they felt the 
watchfulness of the land increase. Tree and stone, blade and leaf were 
listening. The darkness had been dispelled, and far away westward sunset was 
on the Vale of Anduin, and the white peaks of the mountains blushed in the 
blue air; but a shadow and a gloom brooded upon the Ephel D®ath. 

Then Aragorn set trumpeters at each of the four roads that ran into the 
ring of trees, and they blew a great fanfare, and the heralds cried aloud: 

'The Lords of Gondor have returned and all this land that is theirs they 
take back.' The hideous ore-head that was set upon the carven figure was 
cast down and broken in pieces, and the old king's head was raised and set 
in its place once more, still crowned with white and golden flowers: and men 
laboured to wash and pare away all the foul scrawls that ores had put upon 
the stone. 

Now in their debate some had counselled that Minas Morgul should first 
be assailed, and if they might take it, it should be utterly destroyed. 

'And, maybe,' said Imrahil, 'the road that leads thence to the pass above 
will prove an easier way of assault upon the Dark Lord than his northern 




gate.' 

But against this Gandalf had spoken urgently, because of the evil that 
dwelt in the valley, where the minds of living men would turn to madness and 
horror, and because also of the news that Faramir had brought. For if the 
Ring-bearer had indeed attempted that way, then above all they should not 
draw the Eye of Mordor thither. So the next day when the main host came up, 
they set a strong guard upon the Cross-roads to make some defence, if Mordor 
should send a force over the Morgul Pass, or should bring more men up from 
the South. For that guard they chose mostly archers who knew the ways of 
Ithilien and would lie hid in the woods and slopes about the meeting of the 
ways. But Gandalf and Aragorn rode with the vanguard to the entrance of 
Morgul Vale and looked on the evil city. 

It was dark and lifeless; for the Ores and lesser creatures of Mordor 
that had dwelt there had been destroyed in battle, and the Nazgyl were 
abroad. Yet the air of the valley was heavy with fear and enmity. Then they 
broke the evil bridge and set red flames in the noisome fields and departed. 

The day after, being the third day since they set out from Minas 
Tirith, the army began its northward march along the road. It was some 
hundred miles by that way from the Cross-roads to the Morannon, and what 
might befall them before they came so far none knew They went openly but 
heedfully, with mounted scouts before them on the road, and others on foot 
upon either side, especially on the eastward flank; for there lay dark 
thickets, and a tumbled land of rocky ghylls and crags, behind which the 
long grim slopes of the Ephel D®ath clambered up. The weather of the world 
remained fair and the wind held in the west, but nothing could waft away the 
glooms and the sad mists that clung about the Mountains of Shadow; and 
behind them at whiles great smokes would arise and hover in the upper winds. 

Ever and anon Gandalf let blow the trumpets, and the heralds would cry: 
"The Lords of Gondor are come! Let all leave this land or yield them up!' 
But Imrahil said: 'Say not The Lords of Gondor. Say The King Elessar. For 
that is true, even though he has not yet sat upon the throne; and it will 
give the Enemy more thought, if the heralds use that name.' And thereafter 
thrice a day the heralds proclaimed the coming of the King Elessar. But none 
answered the challenge. 

Nonetheless, though they marched in seeming peace, the hearts of all 
the army, from the highest to the lowest, were downcast, and with every mile 
that they went north foreboding of evil grew heavier on them. It was near 




the end of the second day of their march from the Cross-roads that they 
first met any offer of battle. For a strong force of Ores and Easterlings 
attempted to take their leading companies in an ambush; and that was in the 
very place where Faramir had waylaid the men of Flarad, and the road went in 
a deep cutting through an out-thrust of the eastward hills. But the Captains 
of the West were well warned by their scouts, skilled men from Henneth 
Annyn 

led by Mablung; and so the ambush was itself trapped. For horsemen went 
wide 

about westward and came up on the flank of the enemy and from behind, and 
they were destroyed or driven east into the hills. 

But the victory did little to enhearten the captains. 'It is but a 
feint,' said Aragorn; 'and its chief purpose, I deem, was rather to draw us 
on by a false guess of our Enemy's weakness than to do us much hurt, yet.' 
And from that evening onward the Nazgyl came and followed every move of 
the 

army. They still flew high and out of sight of all save Legolas, and yet 
their presence could be felt, as a deepening of shadow and a dimming of the 
sun; and though the Ring wraiths did not yet stoop low upon their foes and 
were silent, uttering no cry, the dread of them could not be shaken off. 

So time and the hopeless journey wore away. Upon the fourth day from 
the Cross-roads and the sixth from Minas Tirith they came at last to the end 
of the living lands, and began to pass into the desolation that lay before 
the gates of the Pass of Cirith Gorgor; and they could descry the marshes 
and the desert that stretched north and west to the Emyn Muil. So desolate 
were those places and so deep the horror that lay on them that some of the 
host were unmanned, and they could neither walk nor ride further north. 

Aragorn looked at them, and there was pity in his eyes rather than 
wrath; for these were young men from Rohan, from Westfold far away, or 
husbandmen from Lossarnach, and to them Mordor had been from childhood 
a 

name of evil, and yet unreal, a legend that had no part in their simple 
life; and now they walked like men in a hideous dream made true, and they 
understood not this war nor why fate should lead them to such a pass. 

'Go!' said Aragorn. 'But keep what honour you may, and do not run! And 
there is a task which you may attempt and so be not wholly shamed. Take your 
way south-west till you come to Cair Andros, and if that is still held by 




enemies, as I think, then re-take it, if you can; and hold it to the last in 
defence of Gondor and Rohan!' 

Then some being shamed by his mercy overcame their fear and went on, 
and the others took new hope, hearing of a manful deed within their measure 
that they could turn to, and they departed. And so, since many men had 
already been left at the Cross-roads, it was with less than six thousands 
that the Captains of the West came at last to challenge the Black Gate and 
the might of Mordor. 

They advanced now slowly, expecting at every hour some answer to their 
challenge, and they drew together, since it was but waste of men to send out 
scouts or small parties from the main host. At nightfall of the fifth day of 
the march from Morgul Vale they made their last camp, and set fires about it 
of such dead wood and heath as they could find. They passed the hours of 
night in wakefulness and they were aware of many things half-seen that 
walked and prowled all about them, and they heard the howling of wolves. The 
wind had died and all the air seemed still. They could see little, for 
though it was cloudless and the waxing moon was four nights old, there were 
smokes and fumes that rose out of the earth and the white crescent was 
shrouded in the mists of Mordor. 

It grew cold. As morning came the wind began to stir again, but now it 
came from the North, and soon it freshened to a rising breeze. All the 
night-walkers were gone, and the land seemed empty. North amid their 
noisome 

pits lay the first of the great heaps and hills of slag and broken rock and 
blasted earth, the vomit of the maggot-folk of Mordor; but south and now 
near loomed the great rampart of Cirith Gorgor, and the Black Gate amidmost, 
and the two Towers of the Teeth tall and dark upon either side. For in their 
last march the Captains had turned away from the old road as it bent east, 
and avoided the peril of the lurking hills, and so now they were approaching 
the Morannon from the north-west, even as Frodo had done. 

The two vast iron doors of the Black Gate under its frowning arch were 
fast closed. Upon the battlement nothing could be seen. All was silent but 
watchful. They were come to the last end of their folly, and stood forlorn 
and chill in the grey light of early day before towers and walls which their 
army could not assault with hope, not even if it had brought thither engines 
of great power, and the Enemy had no more force than would suffice for the 
manning of the gate and wall alone. Yet they knew that all the hills and 




rocks about the Morannon were filled with hidden foes, and the shadowy 
defile beyond was bored and tunnelled by teeming broods of evil things. And 
as they stood they saw all the Nazgyl gathered together, hovering above the 
Towers of the Teeth like vultures; and they knew that they were watched. But 
still the Enemy made no sign. 

No choice was left them but to play their part to its end. Therefore 
Aragorn now set the host in such array as could best be contrived; and they 
were drawn up on two great hills of blasted stone and earth that ores had 
piled in years of labour. Before them towards Mordor lay like a moat a great 
mire of reeking mud and foul-smelling pools. When all was ordered, the 
Captains rode forth towards the Black Gate with a great guard of horsemen 
and the banner and heralds and trumpeters. There was Gandalf as chief 
herald, and Aragorn with the sons of Elrond, and Jomer of Rohan, and 
Imrahil; and Legolas and Gimli and Peregrin were bidden to go also, so that 
all the enemies of Mordor should have a witness. 

They came within cry of the Morannon, and unfurled the banner, and blew 
upon their trumpets; and the heralds stood out and sent their voices up over 
the battlement of Mordor. 

'Come forth!' they cried. 'Let the Lord of the Black Land come forth! 
Justice shall be done upon him. Lor wrongfully he has made war upon Gondor 
and wrested its lands. Therefore the King of Gondor demands that he should 
atone for his evils, and depart then for ever. Come forth!' 

There was a long silence, and from wall and gate no cry or sound was 
heard in answer. But Sauron had already laid his plans, and he had a mind 
first to play these mice cruelly before he struck to kill. So it was that, 
even as the Captains were about to turn away, the silence was broken 
suddenly. There came a long rolling of great drums like thunder in the 
mountains, and then a braying of horns that shook the very stones and 
stunned men's ears. And thereupon the middle door of the Black Gate was 
thrown open with a great clang, and out of it there came an embassy from the 
Dark Tower. 

At its head there rode a tall and evil shape, mounted upon a black 
horse, if horse it was; for it was huge and hideous, and its face was a 
frightful mask, more like a skull than a living head, and in the sockets of 
its eyes and in its nostrils there burned a flame. The rider was robed all 
in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a 
living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dyr he was, and his name is 




remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said: 'I am 
the Mouth of Sauron.' But it is told that he was a renegade, who came of the 
race of those that are named the Black N®menureans; for they established 
their dwellings in Middle-earth during the years of Sauron's domination, and 
they worshipped him, being enamoured of evil knowledge. And he entered the 
service of the Dark Tower when it first rose again, and because of his 
cunning he grew ever higher in the Lord's favour; and he learned great 
sorcery, and knew much of the mind of Sauron; and he was more cruel than 
any 
ore. 

He it was that now rode out, and with him came only a small company of 
black-harnessed soldiery, and a single banner, black but bearing on it in 
red the Evil Eye. Now halting a few paces before the Captains of the West he 
looked them up and down and laughed. 

'Is there anyone in this rout with authority to treat with me?' he 
asked. 'Or indeed with wit to understand me? Not thou at least!' he mocked, 
turning to Aragorn with scorn. 'It needs more to make a king than a piece of 
elvish glass, or a rabble such as this. Why, any brigand of the hills can 
show as good a following!' 

Aragorn said naught in answer, but he took the other's eye and held it, 
and for a moment they strove thus; but soon, though Aragorn did not stir nor 
move hand to weapon, the other quailed and gave back as if menaced with a 
blow. 'I am a herald and ambassador, and may not be assailed!' he cried. 

'Where such laws hold,' said Gandalf, 'it is also the custom for 
ambassadors to use less insolence. But no one has threatened you. You have 
naught to fear from us, until your errand is done. But unless your master 
has come to new wisdom, then with all his servants you will be in great 
peril.' 

'So!' said the Messenger. 'Then thou art the spokesman, old greybeard? 

Have we not heard of thee at whiles, and of thy wanderings, ever hatching 
plots and mischief at a safe distance? But this time thou hast stuck out thy 
nose too far, Master Gandalf; and thou shalt see what comes to him who sets 
his foolish webs before the feet of Sauron the Great. I have tokens that I 
was bidden to show to thee - to thee in especial, if thou shouldst dare to 
come.' He signed to one of his guards, and he came forward bearing a bundle 
swathed in black cloths. 

The Messenger put these aside, and there to the wonder and dismay of 




all the Captains he held up first the short sword that Sam had carried, and 
next a grey cloak with an el ven -brooch, and last the coat of mithril-mail 
that Frodo had worn wrapped in his tattered garments. A blackness came 
before their eyes, and it seemed to them in a moment of silence that the 
world stood still, but their hearts were dead and their last hope gone. 

Pippin who stood behind Prince Imrahil sprang forward with a cry of grief. 

’Silence!' said Gandalf sternly, thrusting him back; but the Messenger 
laughed aloud. 

’So you have yet another of these imps with you!' he cried. 'What use 
you find in them I cannot guess; but to send them as spies into Mordor is 
beyond even your accustomed folly. Still, I thank him, for it is plain that 
this brat at least has seen these tokens before, and it would be vain for 
you to deny them now.' 

'I do not wish to deny them,' said Gandalf. 'Indeed, I know them all 
and all their history, and despite your scorn, foul Mouth of Sauron, you 
cannot say as much. But why do you bring them here?' 

'Dwarf-coat, elf-cloak, blade of the downf alien West, and spy from the 
little rat-land of the Shire-nay; do not start! We know it well - here are 
the marks of a conspiracy. Now, maybe he that bore these things was a 
creature that you would not grieve to lose, and maybe otherwise: one dear to 
you, perhaps? If so, take swift counsel with what little wit is left to you. 

For Sauron does not love spies, and what his fate shall be depends now on 
your choice.' 

No one answered him; but he saw their faces grey with fear and the 
horror in their eyes, and he laughed again, for it seemed to him that his 
sport went well. 'Good, good!' he said. 'He was dear to you, I see. Or else 
his errand was one that you did not wish to fail? It has. And now he shall 
endure the slow torment of years, as long and slow as our arts in the Great 
Tower can contrive, and never be released, unless maybe when he is changed 
and broken, so that he may come to you, and you shall see what you have 
done. This shall surely be-unless you accept my Lord's terms.' 

'Name the terms,' said Gandalf steadily, but those nearby saw the 
anguish in his face, and now he seemed an old and wizened man, crushed, 
defeated at last. They did not doubt that he would accept. 

'These are the terms,' said the Messenger, and smiled as he eyed them 
one by one. 'The rabble of Gondor and its deluded allies shall withdraw at 
once beyond the Anduin, first taking oaths never again to assail Sauron the 




Great in arms, open or secret. All lands east of Anduin shall be Sauron's 
for ever, solely. West of the Anduin as far as the Misty Mountains and the 
Gap of Rohan shall be tributary to Mordor, and men there shall bear no 
weapons, but shall have leave to govern their own affairs. But they shall 
help to rebuild Isengard which they have wantonly destroyed, and that shall 
be Sauron's, and there his lieutenant shall dwell: not Saruman, but one more 
worthy of trust.' 

Looking in the Messenger's eyes they read his thought. He was to be 
that lieutenant, and gather all that remained of the West under his sway; he 
would be their tyrant and they his slaves. 

But Gandalf said: 'This is much to demand for the delivery of one 
servant: that your Master should receive in exchange what he must else fight 
many a war to gain! Or has the field of Gondor destroyed his hope in war, so 
that he falls to haggling? And if indeed we rated this prisoner so high, 
what surety have we that Sauron the Base Master of Treachery, will keep his 
part? Where is this prisoner? Let him be brought forth and yielded to us, 
and then we will consider these demands.' 

It seemed then to Gandalf, intent, watching him as a man engaged in 
fencing with a deadly foe, that for the taking of a breath the Messenger was 
at a loss; yet swiftly he laughed again. 

'Do not bandy words in your insolence with the Mouth of Sauron!' he 
cried. 'Surety you crave! Sauron gives none. If you sue for his clemency you 
must first do his bidding. These are his terms. Take them or leave them!' 

'These we will take!' said Gandalf suddenly. He cast aside his cloak 
and a white light shone forth like a sword in that black place. Before his 
upraised hand the foul Messenger recoiled, and Gandalf coming seized and 
took from him the tokens: coat, cloak, and sword. 'These we will take in 
memory of our friend,' he cried. 'But as for your terms, we reject them 
utterly. Get you gone, for your embassy is over and death is near to you. We 
did not come here to waste words in treating with Sauron, faithless and 
accursed; still less with one of his slaves. Begone!' 

Then the Messenger of Mordor laughed no more. His face was twisted with 
amazement and anger to the likeness of some wild beast that, as it crouches 
on its prey, is smitten on the muzzle with a stinging rod. Rage filled him 
and his mouth slavered, and shapeless sounds of fury came strangling from 
his throat. But he looked at the fell faces of the Captains and their deadly 
eyes, and fear overcame his wrath. He gave a great cry, and turned, leaped 




upon his steed, and with his company galloped madly back to Cirith Gorgor. 
But as they went his soldiers blew their horns in signal long arranged; and 
even before they came to the gate Sauron sprang his trap. 

Drums rolled and fires leaped up. The great doors of the Black Gate 
swung back wide. Out of it streamed a great host as swiftly as swirling 
waters when a sluice is lifted. 

The Captains mounted again and rode back, and from the host of Mordor 
there went up a jeering yell. Dust rose smothering the air, as from nearby 
there marched up an army of Easterlings that had waited for the signal in 
the shadows of Ered Lithui beyond the further Tower. Down from the hills on 
either side of the Morannon poured Ores innumerable. The men of the West 
were trapped, and soon, all about the grey mounds where they stood, forces 
ten times and more than ten times their match would ring them in a sea of 
enemies. Sauron had taken the proffered bait in jaws of steel. 

Little time was left to Aragorn for the ordering of his battle. Upon 
the one hill he stood with Gandalf, and there fair and desperate was raised 
the banner of the Tree and Stars. Upon the other hill hard by stood the 
banners of Rohan and Dol Amroth, White Elorse and Silver Swan. And about 
each 

hill a ring was made facing all ways, bristling with spear and sword. But in 
the front towards Mordor where the first bitter assault would come there 
stood the sons of Elrond on the left with the D®nedain about them, and on 
the right the Prince Imrahil with the men of Dol Amroth tall and fair, and 
picked men of the Tower of Guard. 

The wind blew, and the trumpets sang, and arrows whined; but the sun 
now climbing towards the South was veiled in the reeks of Mordor, and 
through a threatening haze it gleamed, remote, a sullen red, as if it were 
the ending of the day, or the end maybe of all the world of light. And out 
of the gathering mirk the Nazgyl came with, their cold voices crying words 
of death; and then all hope was quenched. 

Pippin had bowed crushed with horror when he heard Gandalf reject the 
terms and doom Frodo to the torment of the Tower; but he had mastered 
himself, and now he stood beside Beregond in the front rank of Gondor with 
Imrahil's men. For it seemed best to him to die soon and leave the bitter 
story of his life, since all was in ruin. 

’I wish Merry was here,’ he heard himself saying, and quick thoughts 
raced through his mind, even as he watched the enemy come charging to the 




assault. 'Well, well, now at any rate I understand poor Denethor a little 
better. We might die together, Merry and I, and since die we must, why not? 
Well, as he is not here, I hope he'll find an easier end. But now I must do 
my best.' 

He drew his sword and looked at it, and the intertwining shapes of red 
and gold; and the flowing characters of N®menor glinted like fire upon the 
blade. 'This was made for just such an hour,' he thought. 'If only I could 
smite that foul Messenger with it, then almost I should draw level with old 
Merry. Well, I'll smite some of this beastly brood before the end. I wish I 
could see cool sunlight and green grass again!' 

Then even as he thought these things the first assault crashed into 
them. The ores hindered by the mires that lay before the hills halted and 
poured their arrows into the defending ranks. But through them there came 
striding up, roaring like beasts, a great company of hill-trolls out of 
Gorgoroth. Taller and broader than Men they were, and they were clad only in 
close-fitting mesh of horny scales, or maybe that was their hideous hide; 
but they bore round bucklers huge and black and wielded heavy hammers in 
their knotted hands. Reckless they sprang into the pools and waded across, 
bellowing as they came. Like a storm they broke upon the line of the men of 
Gondor, and beat upon helm and head, and arm and shield as smiths hewing the 
hot bending iron. At Pippin's side Beregond was stunned and overborne, and 
he fell; and the great troll-chief that smote him down bent over him, 
reaching out a clutching claw; for these fell creatures would bite the 
throats of those that they threw down. 

Then Pippin stabbed upwards, and the written blade of Westernesse 
pierced through the hide and went deep into the vitals of the troll, and his 
black blood came gushing out. He toppled forward and came crashing down 
like 

a falling rock, burying those beneath him. Blackness and stench and crushing 
pain came upon Pippin, and his mind fell away into a great darkness. 

'So it ends as I guessed it would,' his thought said, even as it 
fluttered away; and it laughed a little within him ere it fled, almost gay 
it seemed to be casting off at last all doubt and care and fear. And then 
even as it winged away into forgetfulness it heard voices, and they seemed 
to be crying in some forgotten world far above: 

'The Eagles are coming! The Eagles are coming!' 

For one moment more Pippin's thought hovered. 'Bilbo!' it said. 'But 




no! That came in his tale, long long ago. This is my tale, and it is ended 
now. Good-bye!' And his thought fled far away and his eyes saw no more. 




Chapter 1 . The Tower of Cirith Ungol 



Sam roused himself painfully from the ground. For a moment he wondered 
where he was, and then all the misery and despair returned to him. He was in 
the deep dark outside the under -gate of the ores' stronghold; its brazen 
doors were shut. He must have fallen stunned when he hurled himself against 
them; but how long he had lain there he did not know. Then he had been on 
fire, desperate and furious; now he was shivering and cold. He crept to the 
doors and pressed his ears against them. 

Far within he could hear faintly the voices of ores clamouring, but 
soon they stopped or passed out of hearing, and all was still. His head 
ached and his eyes saw phantom lights in the darkness, but he struggled to 
steady himself and think. It was clear at any rate that he had no hope of 
getting into the ore-hold by that gate; he might wait there for days before 
it was opened, and he could not wait: time was desperately precious. He no 
longer had any doubt about his duty: he must rescue his master or perish in 
the attempt. 

The perishing is more likely, and will be a lot easier anyway,’ he 
said grimly to himself, as he sheathed Sting and turned from the brazen 
doors. Slowly he groped his way back in the dark along the tunnel, not 
daring to use the elven-light; and as he went he tried to fit together the 
events since Frodo and he had left the Cross-roads. He wondered what the 
time was. Somewhere between one day and the next, he supposed; but even of 
the days he had quite lost count. He was in a land of darkness where the 
days of the world seemed forgotten, and where all who entered were forgotten 
too. 

T wonder if they think of us at all,' he said, 'and what is happening 
to them all away there.’ He waved his hand vaguely in the air before him; 
but he was in fact now facing southwards, as he came back to Shelob's 
tunnel, not west. Out westward in the world it was drawing to noon upon the 
fourteenth day of March in the Shire-reckoning. And even now Aragorn was 
leading the black fleet from Pelargir, and Merry was riding with the 




Rohirrim down the Stonewain Valley, while in Minas Tirith flames were rising 
and Pippin watched the madness growing in the eyes of Denethor. Yet amid all 
their cares and fear the thoughts of their friends turned constantly to 
Frodo and Sam. They were not forgotten. But they were far beyond aid, and no 
thought could yet bring any help to Samwise Hamfast's son; he was utterly 
alone. 

He came back at last to the stone door of the ore-passage, and still 
unable to discover the catch or bolt that held it, he scrambled over as 
before and dropped softly to the ground. Then he made his way stealthily to 
the outlet of Shelob's tunnel, where the rags of her great web were still 
blowing and swaying in the cold airs. For cold they seemed to Sam after the 
noisome darkness behind; but the breath of them revived him. He crept 
cautiously out. 

All was ominously quiet. The light was no more than that of dusk at a 
dark day’s end. The vast vapours that arose in Mordor and went streaming 
westward passed low overhead, a great welter of cloud and smoke now lit 
again beneath with a sullen glow of red. 

Sam looked up towards the ore-tower, and suddenly from its narrow 
windows lights stared out like small red eyes. He wondered if they were some 
signal. His fear of the ores, forgotten for a while in his wrath and 
desperation, now returned. As far as he could see, there was only one 
possible course for him to take: he must go on and try to find the main 
entrance to the dreadful tower; but his knees felt weak, and he found that 
he was trembling. Drawing his eyes down from the tower and the horns of the 
Cleft before him, he forced his unwilling feet to obey him, and slowly, 
listening with all his ears, peering into the dense shadows of the rocks 
beside the way, he retraced his steps, past the place where Frodo fell, and 
still the stench of Shelob lingered, and then on and up, until he stood 
again in the very cleft where he had put on the Ring and seen Shagrat's 
company go by. 

There he halted and sat down. For the moment he could drive himself no 
further. He felt that if once he went beyond the crown of the pass and took 
one step veritably down into the land of Mordor, that step would be 
irrevocable. He could never come back. Without any clear purpose he drew out 
the Ring and put it on again. Immediately he felt the great burden of its 
weight, and felt afresh, but now more strong and urgent than ever, the 




malice of the Eye of Mordor, searching, trying to pierce the shadows that it 
had made for its own defence, but which now hindered it in its unquiet and 
doubt. 

As before, Sam found that his hearing was sharpened, but that to his 
sight the things of this world seemed thin and vague. The rocky walls of the 
path were pale, as if seen through a mist, but still at a distance he heard 
the bubbling of Shelob in her misery: and harsh and clear, and very close it 
seemed, he heard cries and the clash of metal. He sprang to his feet, and 
pressed himself against the wall beside the road. He was glad of the Ring, 
for here was yet another company of ores on the march. Or so at first he 
thought. Then suddenly he realized that it was not so, his hearing had 
deceived him: the orc-cries came from the tower, whose topmost horn was 
now 

right above him, on the left hand of the Cleft. 

Sam shuddered and tried to force himself to move. There was plainly 
some devilry going on. Perhaps in spite of all orders the cruelty of the 
ores had mastered them, and they were tormenting Frodo, or even savagely 
hacking him to pieces. He listened; and as he did a gleam of hope came to 
him. There could not be much doubt: there was fighting in the tower, the 
ores must be at war among themselves, Shagrat and Gorbag had come to 
blows. 

Faint as was the hope that his guess brought him, it was enough to rouse 
him. There might be just a chance. His love for Frodo rose above all other 
thoughts, and forgetting his peril he cried aloud: 'I'm coming, Mr. Frodo!' 

He ran forward to the climbing path, and over it. At once the road 
turned left and plunged steeply down. Sam had crossed into Mordor. 

He took off the Ring, moved it may be by some deep premonition of 
danger, though to himself he thought only that he wished to see more 
clearly. 'Better have a look at the worst,' he muttered. 'No good blundering 
about in a fog!' 

Hard and cruel and bitter was the land that met his gaze. Before his 
feet the highest ridge of the Ephel D®ath fell steeply in great cliffs down 
into a dark trough, on the further side of which there rose another ridge, 
much lower, its edge notched and jagged with crags like fangs that stood out 
black against the red light behind them: it was the grim Morgai, the inner 
ring of the fences of the land. Far beyond it, but almost straight ahead, 




across a wide lake of darkness dotted with tiny fires, there was a great 
burning glow; and from it rose in huge columns a swirling smoke, dusty red 
at the roots, black above where it merged into the billowing canopy that 
roofed in all the accursed land. 

Sam was looking at Orodruin, the Mountain of Fire. Ever and anon the 
furnaces far below its ashen cone would grow hot and with a great surging 
and throbbing pour forth rivers of molten rock from chasms in its sides. 
Some would flow blazing towards Barad-dyr down great channels; some 
would 

wind their way into the stony plain, until they cooled and lay like twisted 
dragon- shapes vomited from the tormented earth. In such an hour of labour 
Sam beheld Mount Doom, and the light of it, cut off by the high screen of 
the Ephel D®ath from those who climbed up the path from the West, now 
glared 

against the stark rock faces, so that they seemed to be drenched with blood. 

In that dreadful light Sam stood aghast, for now, looking to his left, 
he could see the Tower of Cirith Ungol in all its strength. The horn that he 
had seen from the other side was only its topmost turret. Its eastern face 
stood up in three great tiers from a shelf in the mountain- wall far below; 
its back was to a great cliff behind, from which it jutted out in pointed 
bastions, one above the other, diminishing as they rose, with sheer sides of 
cunning masonry that looked north-east and south-east. About the lowest 
tier, two hundred feet below where Sam now stood, there was a battlemented 
wall enclosing a narrow court. Its gate, upon the near south-eastern side, 
opened on a broad road, the outer parapet of which ran upon the brink of a 
precipice, until it turned southward and went winding down into the darkness 
to join the road that came over the Morgul Pass. Then on it went through a 
jagged rift in the Morgai out into the valley of Gorgoroth and away to 
Barad-dyr. The narrow upper way on which Sam stood leapt swiftly down 
by 

stair and steep path to meet the main road under the frowning walls close to 
the Tower-gate. 

As he gazed at it suddenly Sam understood, almost with a shock, that 
this stronghold had been built not to keep enemies out of Mordor, but to 
keep them in. It was indeed one of the works of Gondor long ago, an eastern 
outpost of the defences of Ithilien, made when, after the Last Alliance, Men 
of Westernesse kept watch on the evil land of Sauron where his creatures 




still lurked. But as with Narchost and Carchost, the Towers of the Teeth, so 
here too the vigilance had failed, and treachery had yielded up the Tower to 
the Lord of the Ring wraiths, and now for long years it had been held by evil 
things. Since his return to Mordor, Sauron had found it useful; for he had 
few servants but many slaves of fear, and still its chief purpose as of old 
was to prevent escape from Mordor. Though if an enemy were so rash as to try 
to enter that land secretly, then it was also a last unsleeping guard 
against any that might pass the vigilance of Morgul and of Shelob. 

Only too clearly Sam saw how hopeless it would be for him to creep down 
under those many-eyed walls and pass the watchful gate. And even if he did 
so, he could not go far on the guarded road beyond: not even the black 
shadows, lying deep where the red glow could not reach, would shield him 
long from the night-eyed ores. But desperate as that road might be, his task 
was now far worse: not to avoid the gate and escape, but to enter it, alone. 

His thought turned to the Ring, but there was no comfort there, only 
dread and danger. No sooner had he come in sight of Mount Doom, burning 
far 

away, than he was aware of a change in his burden. As it drew near the great 
furnaces where, in the deeps of time, it had been shaped and forged, the 
Ring's power grew, and it became more fell, untameable save by some mighty 
will. As Sam stood there, even though the Ring was not on him but hanging by 
its chain about his neck, he felt himself enlarged, as if he were robed in a 
huge distorted shadow of himself, a vast and ominous threat halted upon the 
walls of Mordor. He felt that he had from now on only two choices: to 
forbear the Ring, though it would torment him; or to claim it, and challenge 
the Power that sat in its dark hold beyond the valley of shadows. Already 
the Ring tempted him, gnawing at his will and reason. Wild fantasies arose 
in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a 
flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as 
he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dyr. And then all the clouds rolled 
away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth 
became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to 
put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be. 

In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to 
hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain 
hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough 




to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray 
him. The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a 
garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to 
command. 

'And anyway all these notions are only a trick,' he said to himself. 

'He'd spot me and cow me, before I could so much as shout out. He'd spot me, 
pretty quick, if I put the Ring on now, in Mordor. Well, all I can say is: 
things look as hopeless as a frost in spring. Just when being invisible 
would be really useful, I can't use the Ring! And if ever I get any further, 
it's going to be nothing but a drag and a burden every step. So what's to be 
done?' 

He was not really in any doubt. He knew that he must go down to the 
gate and not linger any more. With a shrug of his shoulders, as if to shake 
off the shadow and dismiss the phantoms, he began slowly to descend. With 
each step he seemed to diminish. He had not gone far before he had shrunk 
again to a very small and frightened hobbit. He was now passing under the 
very walls of the Tower, and the cries and sounds of fighting could be heard 
with his unaided ears. At the moment the noise seemed to be coming from the 
court behind the outer wall. 

Sam was about half way down the path when out of the dark gateway into 
the red glow there came two ores running. They did not turn towards him. 
They were making for the main road; but even as they ran they stumbled and 
fell to the ground and lay still. Sam had seen no arrows, but he guessed 
that the ores had been shot down by others on the battlements or hidden in 
the shadow of the gate. He went on, hugging the wall on his left. One look 
upward had shown him that there was no hope of climbing it. The stone-work 
rose thirty feet, without a crack or ledge, to overhanging courses like 
inverted steps. The gate was the only way. 

He crept on; and as he went he wondered how many ores lived in the 
Tower with Shagrat, and how many Gorbag had, and what they were 
quarrelling 

about, if that was what was happening. Shagrat's company had seemed to be 
about forty, and Gorbag's more than twice as large; but of course Shagrat's 
patrol had only been a part of his garrison. Almost certainly they were 
quarrelling about Frodo, and the spoil. For a second Sam halted, for 
suddenly things seemed clear to him, almost as if he had seen them with his 




eyes. The mithril coat! Of course, Frodo was wearing it, and they would find 
it. And from what Sam had heard Gorbag would covet it. But the orders of the 
Dark Tower were at present Frodo's only protection, and if they were set 
aside, Frodo might be killed out of hand at any moment. 

’Come on, you miserable sluggard!' Sam cried to himself. 'Now for it!' 

He drew Sting and ran towards the open gate. But just as he was about to 
pass under its great arch he felt a shock: as if he had run into some web 
like Shelob's, only invisible. He could see no obstacle, but something too 
strong for his will to overcome barred the way. He looked about, and then 
within the shadow of the gate he saw the Two Watchers. 

They were like great figures seated upon thrones. Each had three joined 
bodies, and three heads facing outward, and inward, and across the gateway. 
The heads had vulture-faces, and on their great knees were laid clawlike 
hands. They seemed to be carved out of huge blocks of stone, immovable, and 
yet they were aware: some dreadful spirit of evil vigilance abode in them. 
They knew an enemy. Visible or invisible none could pass unheeded. They 
would forbid his entry, or his escape. 

Hardening his will Sam thrust forward once again, and halted with a 
jerk, staggering as if from a blow upon his breast and head. Then greatly 
daring, because he could think of nothing else to do, answering a sudden 
thought that came to him, he drew slowly out the phial of Galadriel and held 
it up. Its white light quickened swiftly, and the shadows under the dark 
arch fled. The monstrous Watchers sat there cold and still, revealed in all 
their hideous shape. For a moment Sam caught a glitter in the black stones 
of their eyes, the very malice of which made him quail; but slowly he felt 
their will waver and crumble into fear. 

He sprang past them; but even as he did so, thrusting the phial back 
into his bosom, he was aware, as plainly as if a bar of steel had snapped to 
behind him, that their vigilance was renewed. And from those evil heads 
there came a high shrill cry that echoed in the towering walls before him. 

Far up above, like an answering signal, a harsh bell clanged a single 
stroke. 

'That's done it!' said Sam. 'Now I've rung the front-door bell! Well, 
come on somebody!' he cried. 'Tell Captain Shagrat that the great 
Elf-warrior has called, with his elf-sword too!’ 

There was no answer. Sam strode forward. Sting glittered blue in his 




hand. The courtyard lay in deep shadow, but he could see that the pavement 
was strewn with bodies. Right at his feet were two ore-archers with knives 
sticking in their backs. Beyond lay many more shapes; some singly as they 
had been hewn down or shot; others in pairs, still grappling one another, 
dead in the very throes of stabbing, throttling, biting. The stones were 
slippery with dark blood. 

Two liveries Sam noticed, one marked by the Red Eye, the other by a 
Moon disfigured with a ghastly face of death; but he did not stop to look 
more closely. Across the court a great door at the foot of the Tower stood 
half open, and a red light came through; a large ore lay dead upon the 
threshold. Sam sprang over the body and went in; and then he peered about at 
a loss. 

A wide and echoing passage led back from the door towards the 
mountain-side. It was dimly lit with torches flaring in brackets on the 
walls, but its distant end was lost in gloom. Many doors and openings could 
be seen on this side and that; but it was empty save for two or three more 
bodies sprawling on the floor. From what he had heard of the captains' talk 
Sam knew that, dead or alive, Frodo would most likely be found in a chamber 
high up in the turret far above; but he might search for a day before he 
found the way. 

'It'll be near the back, I guess,' Sam muttered. 'The whole Tower 
climbs backwards-like. And anyway I'd better follow these lights.' 

He advanced down the passage, but slowly now, each step more reluctant. 
Terror was beginning to grip him again. There was no sound save the rap of 
his feet, which seemed to grow to an echoing noise, like the slapping of 
great hands upon the stones. The dead bodies: the emptiness; the dank black 
walls that in the torchlight seemed to drip with blood; the fear of sudden 
death lurking in doorway or shadow; and behind all his mind the waiting 
watchful malice at the gate: it was almost more than he could screw himself 
to face. He would have welcomed a fight-with not too many enemies at a time 
- rather than this hideous brooding uncertainty. He forced himself to think 
of Frodo, lying bound or in pain or dead somewhere in this dreadful place. 

He went on. 

He had passed beyond the torchlight, almost to a great arched door at 
the end of the passage, the inner side of the under gate, as he rightly 
guessed, when there came from high above a dreadful choking shriek. He 
stopped short. Then he heard feet coming. Someone was running in great haste 




down an echoing stairway overhead. 

His will was too weak and slow to restrain his hand. It dragged at the 
chain and clutched the Ring. But Sam did not put it on; for even as he 
clasped it to his breast, an ore came clattering down. Leaping out of a dark 
opening at the right, it ran towards him. It was no more than six paces from 
him when, lifting its head, it saw him; and Sam could hear its gasping 
breath and see the glare in its bloodshot eyes. It stopped short aghast. For 
what it saw was not a small frightened hobbit trying to hold a steady sword: 
it saw a great silent shape, cloaked in a grey shadow, looming against the 
wavering light behind; in one hand it held a sword, the very light of which 
was a bitter pain, the other was clutched at its breast, but held concealed 
some nameless menace of power and doom. 

For a moment the ore crouched, and then with a hideous yelp of fear it 
turned and fled back as it had come. Never was any dog more heartened when 
its enemy turned tail than Sam at this unexpected flight. With a shout he 
gave chase. 

'Yes! The Elf- warrior is loose!' he cried. 'I'm coming. Just you show 
me the way up, or I'll skin you!' 

But the ore was in its own haunts, nimble and well-fed. Sam was a 
stranger, hungry and weary. The stairs were high and steep and winding. 
Sam's breath began to come in gasps. The ore had soon passed out of sight, 
and now only faintly could be heard the slapping of its feet as it went on 
and up. Every now and again it gave a yell, and the echo ran along the 
walls. But slowly all sound of it died away. 

Sam plodded on. He felt that he was on the right road, and his spirits 
had risen a good deal. He thrust the Ring away and tightened his belt. 

'Well, well!’ he said. 'If only they all take such a dislike to me and my 
Sting, this may turn out better than I hoped. And anyway it looks as if 
Shagrat, Gorbag, and company have done nearly all my job for me. Except for 
that little frightened rat, I do believe there's nobody left alive in the 
place!' 

And with that he stopped, brought up hard, as if he had hit his head 
against the stone wall. The full meaning of what he had said struck him like 
a blow. Nobody left alive! Whose had been that horrible dying shriek? 
'Frodo, Frodo! Master!’ he cried half sobbing. ’If they've killed you, what 
shall I do? Well, I'm coming at last, right to the top, to see what I must.' 




Up, up he went. It was dark save for an occasional torch flaring at a 
turn, or beside some opening that led into the higher levels of the Tower. 
Sam tried to count the steps, but after two hundred he lost his reckoning. 

He was moving quietly now: for he thought that he could hear the sound of 
voices talking, still some way above. More than one rat remained alive, it 
seemed. 

All at once, when he felt that he could pump out no more breath, nor 
force his knees to bend again, the stair ended. He stood still. The voices 
were now loud and near. Sam peered about. He had climbed right to the flat 
roof of the third and highest tier of the Tower: an open space, about twenty 
yards across, with a low parapet. There the stair was covered by a small 
domed chamber in the midst of the roof, with low doors facing east and west. 
Eastward Sam could see the plain of Mordor vast and dark below, and the 
burning mountain far away. A fresh turmoil was surging in its deep wells, 
and the rivers of fire blazed so fiercely that even at this distance of many 
miles the light of them lit the tower -top with a red glare. Westward the 
view was blocked by the base of the great turret that stood at the back of 
this upper court and reared its horn high above the crest of the encircling 
hills. Light gleamed in a window-slit. Its door was not ten yards from where 
Sam stood. It was open but dark, and from just within its shadow the voices 
came. 

At first Sam did not listen; he took a pace out of the eastward door 
and looked about. At once he saw that up here the fighting had been 
fiercest. All the court was choked with dead ores or their severed and 
scattered heads and limbs. The place stank of death. A snarl followed by a 
blow and a cry sent him darting back into hiding. An ore-voice rose in 
anger, and he knew it again at once, harsh, brutal, cold. It was Shagrat 
speaking, Captain of the Tower. 

'You won’t go again, you say? Curse you, Snaga, you little maggot! If 
you think I'm so damaged that it’s safe to flout me, you're mistaken Come 
here, and I'll squeeze your eyes out, like I did to Radbug just now. And 
when some new lads come, I'll deal with you: I'll send you to Shelob.' 

'They won’t come, not before you're dead anyway,' answered Snaga 
surlily. 'I've told you twice that Gorbag's swine got to the gate first, and 
none of ours got out. Lagduf and Muzgash ran through, but they were shot. I 
saw it from a window, I tell you. And they were the last.' 

'Then you must go. I must stay here anyway. But I'm hurt. The Black 




Pits take that filthy rebel Gorbag!' Shagrat's voice trailed off into a 
string of foul names and curses. 'I gave him better than I got, but he 
knifed me, the dung, before I throttled him. You must go, or I'll eat you. 

News must get through to Lugb®rz, or we'll both be for the Black Pits. Yes, 
you too. You won’t escape by skulking here.' 

Tm not going down those stairs again,' growled Snaga, 'be you captain 
or no. Nar! Keep your hands off your knife, or I'll put an arrow in your 
guts. You won't be a captain long when They hear about all these goings-on. 
I've fought for the Tower against those stinking Morgul-rats, but a nice 
mess you two precious captains have made of things, fighting over the swag.' 

'That's enough from you,' snarled Shagrat. V I had my orders. It was 
Gorbag started it, trying to pinch that pretty shirt.' 

'Well, you put his back up, being so high and mighty. And he had more 
sense than you anyway. He told you more than once that the most dangerous of 
these spies was still loose, and you wouldn't listen. And you won't listen 
now. Gorbag was right, I tell you. There's a great fighter about, one of 
those bloody -handed Elves, or one of the filthy tarksA He's coming here, I 
tell you. You heard the bell. He's got past the Watchers, and that's tark's 
work. He's on the stairs. And until he's off them, I'm not going down. Not 
if you were a Nazgyl, I wouldn't.' 

'So that's it, is it?' yelled Shagrat. 'You'll do this, and you'll not 
do that? And when he does come, you'll bolt and leave me? No, you won't! 
I'll put red maggot-holes in your belly first.' 

Out of the turret-door the smaller ore came flying. Behind him came 
Shagrat, a large ore with long arms that, as he ran crouching, reached to 
the ground. But one arm hung limp and seemed to be bleeding; the other 
hugged a large black bundle. In the red glare Sam, cowering behind the 
stair-door, caught a glimpse of his evil face as it passed: it was scored as 
if by rending claws and smeared with blood; slaver dripped from its 
protruding fangs; the mouth snarled like an animal. 

As far as Sam could see, Shagrat hunted Snaga round the roof, until 
ducking and eluding him the smaller ore with a yelp darted back into the 
turret and disappeared. Then Shagrat halted. Out of the eastward door Sam 
could see him now by the parapet, panting, his left claw clenching and 
unclenching feebly. He put the bundle on the floor and with his right claw 
drew out a long red knife and spat on it. Going to the parapet he leaned 
over, looking down into the outer court far below. Twice he shouted but no 




answer came. 

Suddenly, as Shagrat was stooped over the battlement, his back to the 
roof-top, Sam to his amazement saw that one of the sprawling bodies was 
moving. It was crawling. It put out a claw and clutched the bundle. It 
staggered up. In its other hand it held a broad-headed spear with a short 
broken haft. It was poised for a stabbing thrust. But at that very moment a 
hiss escaped its teeth, a gasp of pain or hate. Quick as a snake Shagrat 
slipped aside, twisted round, and drove his knife into his enemy's throat. 

'Got you, Gorbag!’ he cried. ’Not quite dead, eh? Well, I'll finish my 
job now.’ He sprang on to the fallen body, and stamped and trampled it in 
his fury, stooping now and again to stab and slash it with his knife. 

Satisfied at last, he threw back his head and let out a horrible gurgling 
yell of triumph. Then he licked his knife, and put it between his teeth, and 
catching up the bundle he came loping towards the near door of the stairs. 

Sam had no time to think. He might have slipped out of the other door, 
but hardly without being seen; and he could not have played hide-and-seek 
with this hideous ore for long. He did what was probably the best thing he 
could have done. He sprang out to meet Shagrat with a shout. He was no 
longer holding the Ring, but it was there, a hidden power, a cowing menace 
to the slaves of Mordor; and in his hand was Sting, and its light smote the 
eyes of the ore like the glitter of cruel stars in the terrible 
elf-countries, the dream of which was a cold fear to all his kind. And 
Shagrat could not both fight and keep hold of his treasure. He stopped, 
growling, baring his fangs. Then once more, ore-fashion, he leapt aside, and 
as Sam sprang at him, using the heavy bundle as both shield and weapon, he 
thrust it hard into his enemy's face. Sam staggered, and before he could 
recover, Shagrat darted past and down the stairs. 

Sam ran after him, cursing, but he did not go far. Soon the thought of 
Frodo returned to him, and he remembered that the other ore had gone back 
into the turret. Here was another dreadful choice, and he had no time to 
ponder it. If Shagrat got away, he would soon get help and come back. But if 
Sam pursued him, the other ore might do some horrible deed up there. And 
anyway Sam might miss Shagrat or be killed by him. He turned quickly and ran 
back up the stairs. 'Wrong again, I expect,' he sighed. 'But it’s my job to 
go right up to the top first, whatever happens afterwards.' 

Away below Shagrat went leaping down the stairs and out over the court 
and through the gate, bearing his precious burden. If Sam could have seen 




him and known the grief that his escape would bring, he might have quailed. 
But now his mind was set on the last stage of his search. He came cautiously 
to the turret-door and stepped inside. It opened into darkness. But soon his 
staring eyes were aware of a dim light at his right hand. It came from an 
opening that led to another stairway, dark and narrow: it appeared to go 
winding up the turret along the inside of its round outer wall. A torch was 
glimmering from somewhere up above. 

Softly Sam began to climb. He came to the guttering torch, fixed above 
a door on his left that faced a window-slit looking out westward: one of the 
red eyes that he and Frodo had seen from down below by the tunnel's mouth. 
Quickly Sam passed the door and hurried on to the second storey, dreading at 
any moment to he attacked and to feel throttling fingers seize his throat 
from behind. He came next to a window looking east and another torch above 
the door to a passage through the middle of the turret. The door was open, 
the passage dark save for the glimmer of the torch and the red glare from 
outside filtering through the window-slit. But here the stair stopped and 
climbed no further. Sam crept into the passage. On either side there was a 
low door; both were closed and locked. There was no sound at all. 

'A dead end,’ muttered Sam; 'and after all my climb! This can't be the 
top of the tower. But what can I do now?' 

He ran back to the lower storey and tried the door. It would not move. 

He ran up again, and sweat began to trickle down his face. He felt that even 
minutes were precious, but one by one they escaped; and he could do nothing. 
He cared no longer for Shagrat or Snaga or any other ore that was ever 
spawned. He longed only for his master, for one sight of his face or one 
touch of his hand. 

At last, weary and feeling finally defeated, he sat on a step below the 
level of the passage-floor and bowed his head into his hands. It was quiet, 
horribly quiet. The torch, that was already burning low when he arrived, 
sputtered and went out; and he felt the darkness cover him like a tide. And 
then softly, to his own surprise, there at the vain end of his long journey 
and his grief, moved by what thought in his heart he could not tell, Sam 
began to sing. 

His voice sounded thin and quavering in the cold dark tower: the voice 
of a forlorn and weary hobbit that no listening ore could possibly mistake 
for the clear song of an Elven-lord. He murmured old childish tunes out of 
the Shire, and snatches of Mr. Bilbo's rhymes that came into his mind like 




fleeting glimpses of the country of his home. And then suddenly new strength 
rose in him, and his voice rang out, while words of his own came unbidden to 
fit the simple tune. 

In western lands beneath the Sun 
the flowers may rise in Spring, 
the trees may bud, the waters run, 
the merry finches sing. 

Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night 
and swaying beeches bear 
the Elven-stars as jewels white 
amid their branching hair. 

Though here at journey's end I lie 
in darkness buried deep, 
beyond all towers strong and high, 
beyond all mountains steep, 
above all shadows rides the Sun 
and Stars for ever dwell: 

I will not say the Day is done, 
nor bid the Stars farewell. 

'Beyond all towers strong and high,' he began again, and then he 
stopped short. He thought that he had heard a faint voice answering him. But 
now he could hear nothing. Yes, he could hear something, but not a voice. 
Footsteps were approaching. Now a door was being opened quietly in the 
passage above; the hinges creaked. Sam crouched down listening. The door 
closed with a dull thud; and then a snarling ore-voice rang out. 

'Ho la! You up there, you dunghill rat! Stop your squeaking, or I'll 
come and deal with you. D'you hear?' 

There was no answer. 

’All right,' growled Snaga. 'But I'll come and have a look at you all 
the same, and see what you're up to.' 

The hinges creaked again, and Sam, now peering over the corner of the 
passage-threshold, saw a flicker of light in an open doorway, and the dim 
shape of an ore coming out. He seemed to be carrying a ladder. Suddenly the 
answer dawned on Sam: the topmost chamber was reached by a trap-door in 
the 

roof of the passage. Snaga thrust the ladder upwards, steadied it, and then 




clambered out of sight. Sam heard a bolt drawn back. Then he heard the 
hideous voice speaking again. 

'You lie quiet, or you'll pay for it! You've not got long to live in 
peace, I guess; but if you don't want the fun to begin right now, keep your 
trap shut, see? There's a reminder for you!' There was a sound like the 
crack of a whip. 

At that rage blazed in Sam's heart to a sudden fury. He sprang up, ran, 
and went up the ladder like a cat. His head came out in the middle of the 
floor of a large round chamber. A red lamp hung from its roof; the westward 
window-slit was high and dark. Something was lying on the floor by the wall 
under the window, but over it a black ore-shape was straddled. It raised a 
whip a second time, but the blow never fell. 

With a cry Sam leapt across the floor, Sting in hand. The ore wheeled 
round, but before it could make a move Sam slashed its whip-hand from its 
arm. Howling with pain and fear but desperate the ore charged head-down at 
him. Sam's next blow went wide, and thrown off his balance he fell 
backwards, clutching at the ore as it stumbled over him. Before he could 
scramble up he heard a cry and a thud. The ore in its wild haste had tripped 
on the ladder -head and fallen through the open trap-door. Sam gave no more 
thought to it. He ran to the figure huddled on the floor. It was Frodo. 

He was naked, lying as if in a swoon on a heap of filthy rags: his arm 
was flung up, shielding his head, and across his side there ran an ugly 
whip-weal. 

'Frodo! Mr. Frodo, my dear!’ cried Sam, tears almost blinding him. 

'It's Sam, I've come!' He half lifted his master and hugged him to his 
breast. Frodo opened his eyes. 

'Am I still dreaming?’ he muttered. 'But the other dreams were 
horrible.’ 

'You're not dreaming at all, Master,' said Sam. 'It's real. It's me. 

I've come.' 

'I can hardly believe it,’ said Frodo, clutching him. 'There was an ore 
with a whip, and then it turns into Sam! Then I wasn't dreaming after all 
when I heard that singing down below, and I tried to answer? Was it you?' 

'It was indeed, Mr. Frodo. I'd given up hope, almost. I couldn't find 
you. 

Well, you have now, Sam, dear Sam, said Frodo, and he la back in Sam's 




gentle arms, closing his eyes, like a child at rest when night-fears are 
driven away by some loved voice or hand. 

Sam felt that he could sit like that in endless happiness; but it was 
not allowed. It was not enough for him to find his master, he had still to 
try and save him. He kissed Frodo's forehead. 'Come! Wake up Mr. Frodo!' he 
said, trying to sound as cheerful as he had when he drew back the curtains 
at Bag End on a summer's morning. 

Frodo sighed and sat up. 'Where are we? How did I get here?’ he asked. 

'There's no time for tales till we get somewhere else, Mr. Frodo,' said 
Sam. 'But you're in the top of that tower you and me saw from away down by 
the tunnel before the ores got you. How long ago that was I don't know. More 
than a day, I guess.' 

'Only that?' said Frodo. 'It seems weeks. You must tell me all about 
it, if we get a chance. Something hit me, didn't it? And I fell into 
darkness and foul dreams, and woke and found that waking was worse. Ores 
were all round me. I think they had just been pouring some horrible burning 
drink down my throat. My head grew clear, but I was aching and weary. They 
stripped me of everything; and then two great brutes came and questioned me, 
questioned me until I thought I should go mad, standing over me, gloating, 
fingering their knives. I'll never forget their claws and eyes.' 

'You won't, if you talk about them, Mr. Frodo,' said Sam. 'And if we 
don't want to see them again, the sooner we get going the better. Can you 
walk?' 

'Yes, I can walk,' said Frodo, getting up slowly. 'I am not hurt Sam. 

Only I feel very tired, and I've a pain here.' He put his hand to the back 
of his neck above his left shoulder. He stood up, and it looked to Sam as if 
he was clothed in flame: his naked skin was scarlet in the light of the lamp 
above. Twice he paced across the floor. 

'That's better!' he said, his spirits rising a little. 'I didn't dare 
to move when I was left alone, or one of the guards came. Until the yelling 
and fighting began. The two big brutes: they quarrelled, I think. Over me 
and my things. I lay here terrified. And then all went deadly quiet, and 
that was worse.' 

'Yes, they quarrelled, seemingly,' said Sam. (There must have been a 
couple of hundred of the dirty creatures in this place. A bit of a tall 
order for Sam Gamgee, as you might say. But they've done all the killing of 
themselves. That's lucky, but it's too long to make a song about, till we're 




out of here. Now what's to be done? You can't go walking in the Black Land 
in naught but your skin, Mr. Frodo.' 

'They've taken everything, Sam,' said Frodo. 'Everything I had. Do you 
understand? Everything!' Fie cowered on the floor again with bowed head, as 
his own words brought home to him the fullness of the disaster, and despair 
overwhelmed him. 'The quest has failed Sam. Even if we get out of here, we 
can't escape. Only Elves can escape. Away, away out of Middle-earth, far 
away over the Sea. If even that is wide enough to keep the Shadow out.' 

'No, not everything, Mr. Frodo. And it hasn't failed, not yet. I took 
it, Mr. Frodo, begging your pardon. And I've kept it safe. It's round my 
neck now, and a terrible burden it is, too.' Sam fumbled for the Ring and 
its chain. 'But I suppose you must take it back.’ Now it had come to it, Sam 
felt reluctant to give up the Ring and burden his master with it again. 

'You've got it?' gasped Frodo. 'You've got it here? Sam, you're a 
marvel!' Then quickly and strangely his tone changed. 'Give it to me!’ he 
cried, standing up, holding out a trembling hand. 'Give it me at once! You 
can't have it!' 

'All right, Mr. Frodo,' said Sam, rather startled. 'Here it is!' Slowly 
he drew the Ring out and passed the chain over his head. 'But you're in the 
land of Mordor now, sir; and when you get out, you'll see the Fiery Mountain 
and all. You'll find the Ring very dangerous now, and very hard to bear. If 
it's too hard a job, I could share it with you, maybe?' 

'No, no!' cried Frodo, snatching the Ring and chain from Sam's hands. 

'No you won't, you thief!' He panted, staring at Sam with eyes wide with 
fear and enmity. Then suddenly, clasping the Ring in one clenched fist, he 
stood aghast. A mist seemed to clear from his eyes, and he passed a hand 
over his aching brow. The hideous vision had seemed so real to him, half 
bemused as he was still with wound and fear. Sam had changed before his very 
eyes into an ore again, leering and pawing at his treasure, a foul little 
creature with greedy eyes and slobbering mouth. But now the vision had 
passed. There was Sam kneeling before him, his face wrung with pain, as if 
he had been stabbed in the heart; tears welled from his eyes. 

'O Sam!' cried Frodo. 'What have I said? What have I done? Forgive me! 
After all you have done. It is the horrible power of the Ring. I wish it had 
never, never, been found. But don't mind me, Sam. I must carry the burden to 
the end. It can't be altered. You can't come between me and this doom.' 

'That's all right, Mr. Frodo,' said Sam, rubbing his sleeve across his 




eyes. 'I understand. But I can still help, can't I? I've got to get you out 
of here. At once, see! But first you want some clothes and gear and then 
some food. The clothes will be the easiest part. As we're in Mordor, we’d, 
best dress up Mordor -fashion; and anyway there isn't no choice. It'll have 
to be ore-stuff for you, Mr. Frodo, I'm afraid. And for me too. If we go 
together, we'd best match. Now put this round you!' 

Sam unclasped his grey cloak and cast it about Frodo's shoulders. Then 
unslinging his pack he laid it on the floor. He drew Sting from its sheath. 
Hardly a flicker was to be seen upon its blade. 'I was forgetting this, Mr. 
Frodo,' he said. 'No, they didn't get everything! You lent me Sting, if you 
remember, and the Lady's glass. I've got them both still. But lend them to 
me a little longer, Mr. Frodo. I must go and see what I can find. You stay 
here. Walk about a bit and ease your legs. I shan't be long. I shan't have 
to go far.' 

'Take care, Sam!' said Frodo. 'And be quick! There may be ores still 
alive, lurking in wait.' 

'I've got to chance it,' said Sam. He stepped to the trap-door and 
slipped down the ladder. In a minute his head reappeared. He threw a long 
knife on the floor. 

'There's something that might be useful,' he said. 'He's dead: the one 
that whipped you. Broke his neck, it seems, in his hurry. Now you draw up 
the ladder, if you can, Mr. Frodo; and don't you let it down till you hear 
me call the password. Elbereth I'll call. What the Elves say. No ore would 
say that.' 

Frodo sat for a while and shivered, dreadful fears chasing one another 
through his mind. Then he got up, drew the grey elven-cloak about him, and 
to keep his mind occupied, began to walk to and fro, prying and peering into 
every corner of his prison. 

It was not very long, though fear made it seem an hour at least, before 
he heard Sam's voice calling softly from below: Elbereth, Elbereth. Frodo 
let down the light ladder. Up came Sam, puffing, heaving a great bundle on 
his head. He let it fall with a thud. 

'Quick now. Mr. Frodo!’ he said. 'I’ve had a bit of a search to find 
anything small enough for the likes of us. We'll have to make do. But we 
must hurry. I've met nothing alive, and I've seen nothing but I'm not easy. 

I think this place is being watched. I can't explain it, but well: it feels 




to me as if one of those foul flying Riders was about, up in the blackness 
where he can't be seen.' 

He opened the bundle. Frodo looked in disgust at the contents, but 
there was nothing for it: he had to put the things on, or go naked. There 
were long hairy breeches of some unclean beast-fell, and a tunic of dirty 
leather. He drew them on. Over the tunic went a coat of stout ring-mail, 
short for a full-sized ore, too long for Frodo and heavy. About it he 
clasped a belt, at which there hung a short sheath holding a broad-bladed 
stabbing-sword. Sam had brought several ore-helmets. One of them fitted 
Frodo well enough, a black cap with iron rim, and iron hoops covered with 
leather upon which the evil Eye was painted in red above the beaklike 
nose-guard. 

'The Morgul-stuff, Gorbag's gear, was a better fit and better made,' 
said Sam; 'but it wouldn't do, I guess, to go carrying his tokens into 
Mordor, not after this business here. Well, there you are, Mr. Frodo. A 
perfect little ore, if I may make so bold-at least you would be, if we could 
cover your face with a mask, give you longer arms, and make you bow-legged. 
This will hide some of the tell-tales.' He put a large black cloak round 
Frodo's shoulders. 'Now you're ready! You can pick up a shield as we go.' 

'What about you, Sam?' said Frodo. 'Aren't we going to match?' 

'Well, Mr. Frodo, I've been thinking,' said Sam. 'I'd best not leave 
any of my stuff behind, and we can't destroy it. And I can't wear ore-mail 
over all my clothes, can I? I'll just have to cover up.' 

He knelt down and carefully folded his elven-cloak. It went into a 
surprisingly small roll. This he put into his pack that lay on the floor. 

Standing up, he slung it behind his back, put an ore-helm on his head, and 
cast another black cloak about his shoulders. 'There!' he said. 'Now we 
match, near enough. And now we must be off!' 

'I can't go all the way at a run, Sam,' said Frodo with a wry smile. 'I 
hope you've made inquiries about inns along the road? Or have you forgotten 
about food and drink?' 

'Save me, but so I had!’ said Sam. He whistled in dismay. 'Bless me, 

Mr. Frodo, but you've gone and made me that hungry and thirsty! I don't know 
when drop or morsel last passed my lips. I'd forgotten it, trying to find 
you. But let me think! Last time I looked I'd got about enough of that 
waybread, and of what Captain Faramir gave us, to keep me on my legs for a 
couple of weeks at a pinch. But if there's a drop left in my bottle, there's 




no more. That's not going to be enough for two, nohow. Don’t ores eat, and 
don't they drink? Or do they just live on foul air and poison?’ 

'No, they eat and drink, Sam. The Shadow that bred them can only mock, 
it cannot make: not real new things of its own. I don’t think it gave life 
to the ores, it only ruined them and twisted them; and if they are to live 
at all, they have to live like other living creatures. Foul waters and foul 
meats they’ll take, if they can get no better, but not poison. They’ve fed 
me, and so I’m better off than you. There must be food and water somewhere 
in this place.’ 'But there's no time to look for them,’ said Sam. 

'Well, things are a bit better than you think,’ said Frodo. ’I have had 
a bit of luck while you were away. Indeed they did not take everything. I’ve 
found my food-bag among some rags on the floor. They've rummaged it, of 
course. But I guess they disliked the very look and smell of the lembas, 
worse than Gollum did. It's scattered about and some of it is trampled and 
broken, but I've gathered it together. It's not far short of what you've 
got. But they’ve taken Faramir’s food, and they’ve slashed up my 
water-bottle.' 

'Well, there’s no more to be said,’ said Sam. 'We’ve got enough to 
start on. But the water’s going to be a bad business. But come Mr. Frodo! 

Off we go, or a whole lake of it won’t do us any good!’ 

’Not till you've had a mouthful, Sam,' said Frodo. 'I won’t budge. 

Here, take this elven-cake, and drink that last drop in your bottle! The 
whole thing is quite hopeless, so it’s no good worrying about tomorrow. It 
probably won’t come.’ 

At last they started. Down the ladder they climbed, and then Sam took 
it and laid it in the passage beside the huddled body of the fallen ore. The 
stair was dark, but on the roof-top the glare of the Mountain could still be 
seen, though it was dying down now to a sullen red. They picked up two 
shields to complete their disguise and then went on. 

Down the great stairway they plodded. The high chamber of the turret 
behind, where they had met again, seemed almost homely: they were out in the 
open again now, and terror ran along the walls. All might be dead in the 
Tower of Cirith Ungol, but it was steeped in fear and evil still. 

At length they came to the door upon the outer court, and they halted. 

Even from where they stood they felt the malice of the Watchers beating on 
them, black silent shapes on either side of the gate through which the glare 




of Mordor dimly showed. As they threaded their way among the hideous 
bodies 

of the ores each step became more difficult. Before they even reached the 
archway they were brought to a stand. To move an inch further was a pain and 
weariness to will and limb. 

Frodo had no strength for such a battle. He sank to the ground. 'I 
can't go on, Sam,' he murmured. v I'm going to faint. I don’t know what's 
come over me.' 

V I do, Mr. Frodo. Hold up now! It's the gate. There's some devilry 
there. But I got through, and I'm going to get out. It can't be more 
dangerous than before. Now for it!' 

Sam drew out the elven-glass of Galadriel again. As if to do honour to 
his hardihood, and to grace with splendour his faithful brown hobbit-hand 
that had done such deeds, the phial blazed forth suddenly, so that all the 
shadowy court was lit with a dazzling radiance like lightning; but it 
remained steady and did not pass. 

'Gilthoniel, A Elbereth!' Sam cried. For, why he did not know, his 
thought sprang back suddenly to the Elves in the Shire, and the song that 
drove away the Black Rider in the trees. 

Aiya elenion ancalima!' cried Frodo once again behind him. 

The will of the Watchers was broken with a suddenness like the snapping 
of a cord, and Frodo and Sam stumbled forward. Then they ran. Through the 
gate and past the great seated figures with their glittering eyes. There was 
a crack. The keystone of the arch crashed almost on their heels, and the 
wall above crumbled, and fell in ruin. Only by a hair did they escape. A 
bell clanged; and from the Watchers there went up a high and dreadful wail. 
Far up above in the darkness it was answered. Out of the black sky there 
came dropping like a bolt a winged shape, rending the clouds with a ghastly 
shriek. 




Chapter 2 . The Land of Shadow 



Sam had just wits enough left to thrust the phial back into his breast. 

'Run, Mr. Frodo!' he cried. 'No, not that way! There's a sheer drop over the 
wall. Follow me!' 

Down the road from the gate they fled. In fifty paces, with a swift 
bend round a jutting bastion of the cliff, it took them out of sight from 
the Tower. They had escaped for the moment. Cowering back against the rock 
they drew breath, and then they clutched at their hearts. Perching now on 
the wall beside the ruined gate the Nazgyl sent out its deadly cries. All 
the cliffs echoed. 

In terror they stumbled on. Soon the road bent sharply eastward again 
and exposed them for a dreadful moment to view from the Tower. As they 
flitted across they glanced back and saw the great black shape upon the 
battlement; then they plunged down between high rock-walls in a cutting that 
fell steeply to join the Morgul-road. They came to the way-meeting. There 
was still no sign of ores, nor of an answer to the cry of the Nazgyl; but 
they knew that the silence would not last long. At any moment now the hunt 
would begin. 

'This won't do, Sam,' said Frodo. 'If we were real ores, we ought to be 
dashing back to the Tower, not running away. The first enemy we meet will 
know us. We must get off this road somehow.' 

'But we can't,' said Sam, 'not without wings.' 

The eastern faces of the Ephel D®ath were sheer, falling in cliff and 
precipice to the black trough that lay between them and the inner ridge. A 
short way beyond the way-meeting, after another steep incline, a flying 
bridge of stone leapt over the chasm and bore the road across into the 
tumbled slopes and glens of the Morgai. With a desperate spurt Frodo and Sam 
dashed along the bridge; but they had hardly reached its further end when 
they heard the hue and cry begin. Away behind them, now high above on the 
mountain- side, loomed the Tower of Cirith Ungol, its stones glowing dully. 
Suddenly its harsh bell clanged again, and then broke into a shattering 
peal. Horns sounded. And now from beyond the bridge-end came 
answering 

cries. Down in the dark trough, cut off from the dying glare of Orodruin, 




Frodo and Sam could not see ahead, but already they heard the tramp of 
iron-shod feet, and upon the road there rang the swift clatter of hoofs. 

'Quick, Sam! Over we go!' cried Frodo. They scrambled onto the low 
parapet of the bridge. Fortunately there was no longer any dreadful drop 
into the gulf, for the slopes of the Morgai had already risen almost to the 
level of the road; but it was too dark for them to guess the depth of the 
fall. 

'Well, here goes, Mr. Frodo,' said Sam. 'Good-bye!' 

Fie let go. Frodo followed. And even as they fell they heard the rush of 
horsemen sweeping over the bridge and the rattle of orc-feet running up 
behind. But Sam would have laughed, if he had dared. Half fearing a breaking 
plunge down on to unseen rocks the hobbits landed, in a drop of no more than 
a dozen feet, with a thud and a crunch into the last thing that they had 
expected: a tangle of thorny bushes. There Sam lay still, softly sucking a 
scratched hand. 

When the sound of hoof and foot had passed he ventured a whisper. 
'Bless me, Mr. Frodo, but I didn't know as anything grew in Mordor! But if I 
had a'known, this is just what I'd have looked for. These thorns must be a 
foot long by the feel of them; they've stuck through everything I've got on. 
Wish I'd a'put that mail-shirt on!' 

'Ore-mail doesn't keep these thorns out,' said Frodo. 'Not even a 
leather jerkin is any good.' 

They had a struggle to get out of the thicket. The thorns and briars 
were as tough as wire and as clinging as claws. Their cloaks were rent and 
tattered before they broke free at last. 

'Now down we go, Sam,' Frodo whispered. 'Down into the valley quick, 
and then turn northward, as soon as ever we can.' 

Day was coming again in the world outside, and far beyond the glooms of 
Mordor the Sun was climbing over the eastern rim of Middle-earth; but here 
all was still dark as night. The Mountain smouldered and its fires went out. 
The glare faded from the cliffs. The easterly wind that had been blowing 
ever since they left Ithilien now seemed dead. Slowly and painfully they 
clambered down, groping, stumbling, scrambling among rock and briar and 
dead 

wood in the blind shadows, down and down until they could go no further. 

At length they stopped, and sat side by side, their backs against a 
boulder. Both were sweating. 'If Shagrat himself was to offer me a glass of 




water, I'd shake his hand,' said Sam. 

'Don't say such things!' said Frodo. 'It only makes it worse.' Then he 
stretched himself out, dizzy and weary, and he spoke no more for a while. At 
last with a struggle he got up again. To his amazement he found that Sam was 
asleep. 'Wake up, Sam!' he said. 'Come on! It's time we made another 
effort.' 

Sam scrambled to his feet. 'Weill never!' he said. 'I must have 
dropped off. It's a long time, Mr. Frodo, since I had a proper sleep, and my 
eyes just closed down on their own.' 

Frodo now led the way, northward as near as he could guess, among the 
stones and boulders lying thick at the bottom of the great ravine. But 
presently he stopped again. 

'It's no good, Sam,' he said. 'I can't manage it. This mail-shirt, I 
mean. Not in my present state. Even my mithril-coat seemed heavy when I was 
tired. This is far heavier. And what's the use of it? We shan't win through 
by fighting.' 

'But we may have some to do,' said Sam. 'And there's knives and stray 
arrows. That Gollum isn't dead, for one thing. I don't like to think of you 
with naught but a bit of leather between you and a stab in the dark.' 

'Look here, Sam dear lad,' said Frodo: 'I am tired, weary, I haven't a 
hope left. But I have to go on trying to get to the Mountain, as long as I 
can move. The Ring is enough. This extra weight is killing me. It must go. 

But don't think I'm ungrateful. I hate to think of the foul work you must 
have had among the bodies to find it for me.' 

'Don't talk about it, Mr. Frodo. Bless you! I'd carry you on my back, 
if I could. Let it go then!' 

Frodo laid aside his cloak and took off the ore-mail and flung it away. 

He shivered a little. 'What I really need is something warm,' he said. 'It's 
gone cold, or else I've caught a chill.' 

'You can have my cloak, Mr. Frodo,' said Sam. He unslung his pack and 
took out the elven-cloak. 'How's this, Mr. Frodo?' he said. 'You wrap that 
ore-rag close round you, and put the belt outside it. Then this can go over 
all. It don't look quite ore-fashion, but it'll keep you warmer; and I 
daresay it'll keep you from harm better than any other gear. It was made by 
the Lady.' 

Frodo took the cloak and fastened the brooch. 'That's better!' he said. 

'I feel much lighter. I can go on now. But this blind dark seems to be 




getting into my heart. As I lay in prison, Sam. I tried to remember the 
Brandywine, and Woody End, and The Water running through the mill at 
Hobbiton. But I can’t see them now.' 

There now, Mr. Frodo, it's you that's talking of water this time!' 
said Sam. 'If only the Lady could see us or hear us, I'd say to her: (Your 
Ladyship, all we want is light and water: just clean water and plain 
daylight, better than any jewels, begging your pardon.( But it's a long way 
to Lurien.' Sam sighed and waved his hand towards the heights of the Ephel 
D®ath, now only to be guessed as a deeper blackness against the black sky. 

They started off again. They had not gone far when Frodo paused. 
'There's a Black Rider over us,' he said. 'I can feel it. We had better keep 
still for a while.' 

Crouched under a great boulder they sat facing back westward and did 
not speak for some time. Then Frodo breathed a sigh of relief. 'It's 
passed,' he said. They stood up, and then they both stared in wonder. Away 
to their left, southward, against a sky that was turning grey, the peaks and 
high ridges of the great range began to appear dark and black, visible 
shapes. Light was growing behind them. Slowly it crept towards the North. 
There was battle far above in the high spaces of the air. The billowing 
clouds of Mordor were being driven back, their edges tattering as a wind out 
of the living world came up and swept the fumes and smokes towards the dark 
land of their home. Under the lifting skirts of the dreary canopy dim light 
leaked into Mordor like pale morning through the grimed window of a prison. 

'Look at it, Mr. Frodo!' said Sam. 'Look at it! The wind's changed. 
Something's happening. He's not having it all his own way. His darkness is 
breaking up out in the world there. I wish I could see what is going on!' 

It was the morning of the fifteenth of March, and over the Vale of 
Anduin the Sun was rising above the eastern shadow, and the south-west wind 
was blowing. Thjoden lay dying on the Pelennor Fields. 

As Frodo and Sam stood and gazed, the rim of light spread all along the 
line of the Ephel D®ath, and then they saw a shape, moving at a great speed 
out of the West, at first only a black speck against the glimmering strip 
above the mountain-tops, but growing, until it plunged like a bolt into the 
dark canopy and passed high above them. As it went it sent out a long shrill 
cry, the voice of a Nazgyl; but this cry no longer held any terror for them: 
it was a cry of woe and dismay, ill tidings for the Dark Tower. The Lord of 




the Ring-wraiths had met his doom. 

’What did I tell you? Something's happening!' cried Sam.' (The war's 
going well,( said Shagrat; but Gorbag he wasn't so sure. And he was right 
there too. Things are looking up, Mr. Frodo. Haven't you got some hope now?' 

'Well no, not much, Sam,' Frodo sighed. 'That's away beyond the 
mountains. We're going east not west. And I'm so tired. And the Ring is so 
heavy, Sam. And I begin to see it in my mind all the time, like a great 
wheel of fire.' 

Sam's quick spirits sank again at once. He looked at his master 
anxiously, and he took his hand. 'Come, Mr. Frodo!' he said. 'I've got one 
thing I wanted: a bit of light. Enough to help us, and yet I guess it's 
dangerous too. Try a bit further, and then we'll lie close and have a rest. 

But take a morsel to eat now, a bit of the Elves' food; it may hearten you.' 

Sharing a wafer of lembas, and munching it as best they could with 
their parched mouths. Frodo and Sam plodded on. The light, though no more 
than a grey dusk, was now enough for them to see that they were deep in the 
valley between the mountains. It sloped up gently northward, and at its 
bottom went the bed of a now dry and withered stream. Beyond its stony 
course they saw a beaten path that wound its way under the feet of the 
westward cliffs. Had they known, they could have reached it quicker, for it 
was a track that left the main Morgul-road at the western bridge-end and 
went down by a long stair cut in the rock to the valley's bottom. It was 
used by patrols or by messengers going swiftly to lesser posts and 
strongholds north-away, between Cirith Ungol and the narrows of Isenmouthe, 
the iron jaws of Carach Angren. 

It was perilous for the hobbits to use such a path, but they needed 
speed, and Frodo felt that he could not face the toil of scrambling among 
the boulders or in the trackless glens of the Morgai. And he judged that 
northward was, maybe, the way that their hunters would least expect them to 
take. The road east to the plain, or the pass back westward, those they 
would first search most thoroughly. Only when he was well north of the Tower 
did he mean to turn and seek for some way to take him east, east on the last 
desperate stage of his journey. So now they crossed the stony bed and took 
to the ore -path, and for some time they marched along it. The cliffs at 
their left were overhung, and they could not be seen from above; but the 
path made many bends, and at each bend they gripped their sword-hilts and 
went forward cautiously. 




The light grew no stronger, for Orodruin was still belching forth a 
great fume that, beaten upwards by the opposing airs, mounted higher and 
higher, until it reached a region above the wind and spread in an 
immeasurable roof, whose central pillar rose out of the shadows beyond their 
view. They had trudged for more than an hour when they heard a sound that 
brought them to a halt. Unbelievable, but unmistakable. Water trickling. Out 
of a gully on the left, so sharp and narrow that it looked as if the black 
cliff had been cloven by some huge axe, water came dripping down: the last 
remains, maybe, of some sweet rain gathered from sunlit seas, but ill-fated 
to fall at last upon the walls of the Black Land and wander fruitless down 
into the dust. Here it came out of the rock in a little falling streamlet, 
and flowed across the path, and turning south ran away swiftly to be lost 
among the dead stones. 

Sam sprang towards it. 'If ever I see the Lady again, I will tell her!' 
he cried. 'Light and now water!' Then he stopped. 'Let me drink first Mr. 
Frodo,' he said. 

'All right, but there's room enough for two.' 

'I didn't mean that,' said Sam. 'I mean: if it's poisonous, or 
something that will show its badness quick, well, better me than you, 
master, if you understand me.' 

'I do. But I think we'll trust our luck together, Sam; or our blessing. 

Still, be careful now, if it's very cold!' 

The water was cool but not icy, and it had an unpleasant taste, at once 
bitter and oily, or so they would have said at home. Here it seemed beyond 
all praise, and beyond fear or prudence. They drank their fill, and Sam 
replenished his water-bottle. After that Frodo felt easier, and they went on 
for several miles, until the broadening of the road and the beginnings of a 
rough wall along its edge warned them that they were drawing near to another 
ore-hold. 

'This is where we turn aside, Sam,' said Frodo. 'And we must turn 
east.' He sighed as he looked at the gloomy ridges across the valley. 'I 
have just about enough strength left to find some hole away up there. And 
then I must rest a little.' 

The river-bed was now some way below the path. They scrambled down to 
it, and began to cross it. To their surprise they came upon dark pools fed 
by threads of water trickling down from some source higher up the valley. 




Upon its outer marges under the westward mountains Mordor was a dying 
land, 

but it was not yet dead. And here things still grew, harsh, twisted, bitter, 
struggling for life. In the glens of the Morgai on the other side of the 
valley low scrubby trees lurked and clung, coarse grey grass-tussocks fought 
with the stones, and withered mosses crawled on them; and everywhere great 
writhing, tangled brambles sprawled. Some had long stabbing thorns, some 
hooked barbs that rent like knives. The sullen shrivelled leaves of a past 
year hung on them, grating and rattling in the sad airs, but their 
maggot-ridden buds were only just opening. Flies, dun or grey, or black, 
marked like ores with a red eye-shaped blotch, buzzed and stung; and above 
the briar -thickets clouds of hungry midges danced and reeled. 

'Ore -gear's no good,' said Sam, waving his arms. 'I wish I'd got an 
ore's hide!' 

At last Frodo could go no further. They had climbed up a narrow 
shelving ravine, but they still had a long way to go before they could even 
come in sight of the last craggy ridge. 'I must rest now, Sam, and sleep if 
I can.' said Frodo. He looked about, but there seemed nowhere even for an 
animal to crawl into in this dismal country. At length, tired out, they 
slunk under a curtain of brambles that hung down like a mat over a low 
rock-face. 

There they sat and made such a meal as they could. Keeping back the 
precious lembas for the evil days ahead, they ate the half of what remained 
in Sam's bag of Faramir's provision: some dried fruit, and a small slip of 
cured meat; and they sipped some water. They had drunk again from the pools 
in the valley, but they were very, thirsty again. There was a bitter tang in 
the air of Mordor that dried the mouth. When Sam thought of water even his 
hopeful spirit quailed. Beyond the Morgai there was the dreadful plain of 
Gorgoroth to cross. 

'Now you go to sleep first, Mr. Frodo,' he said. 'It's getting dark 
again. I reckon this day is nearly over.' 

Frodo sighed and was asleep almost before the words were spoken. Sam 
struggled with his own weariness, and he took Frodo's hand; and there he sat 
silent till deep night fell. Then at last, to keep himself awake, he crawled 
from the hiding-place and looked out. The land seemed full of creaking and 
cracking and sly noises, but there was no sound of voice or of foot. Far 
above the Ephel D®ath in the West the night- sky was still dim and pale. 




There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the 
mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote 
his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to 
him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the 
end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high 
beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance 
rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, 
his own fate, and even his masters, ceased to trouble him. He crawled back 
into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo's side, and putting away all 
fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep. 

They woke together, hand in hand. Sam was almost fresh, ready for 
another day; but Frodo sighed. His sleep had been uneasy, full of dreams of 
fire, and waking brought him no comfort. Still his sleep had not been 
without all healing virtue: he was stronger, more able to bear his burden 
one stage further. They did not know the time, nor how long they had slept; 
but after a morsel of food and a sip of water they went on up the ravine, 
until it ended in a sharp slope of screes and sliding stones. There the last 
living things gave up their struggle; the tops of the Morgai were grassless, 
bare, jagged, barren as a slate. 

After much wandering and search they found a way that they could climb, 
and with a last hundred feet of clawing scramble they were up. They came to 
a cleft between two dark crags, and passing through found themselves on the 
very edge of the last fence of Mordor. Below them, at the bottom of a fall 
of some fifteen hundred feet, lay the inner plain stretching away into a 
formless gloom beyond their sight. The wind of the world blew now from the 
West, and the great clouds were lifted high, floating away eastward; but 
still only a grey light came to the dreary fields of Gorgoroth. There smokes 
trailed on the ground and lurked in hollows, and fumes leaked from fissures 
in the earth. 

Still far away, forty miles at least, they saw Mount Doom, its feet 
founded in ashen ruin, its huge cone rising to a great height, where its 
reeking head was swathed in cloud. Its fires were now dimmed, and it stood 
in smouldering slumber, as threatening and dangerous as a sleeping beast. 
Behind it there hung a vast shadow, ominous as a thunder-cloud, the veils of 
Barad-dyr that was reared far way upon a long spur of the Ashen Mountains 
thrust down from the North. The Dark Power was deep in thought, and the Eye 
turned inward, pondering tidings of doubt and danger: a bright sword, and a 




stern and kingly face it saw, and for a while it gave little thought to 
other things; and all its great stronghold, gate on gate, and tower on 
tower, was wrapped in a brooding gloom. 

Frodo and Sam gazed out in mingled loathing and wonder on this hateful 
land. Between them and the smoking mountain, and about it north and south, 
all seemed ruinous and dead, a desert burned and choked. They wondered 
how 

the Lord of this realm maintained and fed his slaves and his armies. Yet 
armies he had. As far as their eyes could reach, along the skirts of the 
Morgai and away southward, there were camps, some of tents, some ordered 
like small towns. One of the largest of these was right below them. Barely a 
mile out into the plain it clustered like some huge nest of insects, with 
straight dreary streets of huts and long low drab buildings. About it the 
ground was busy with folk going to and fro; a wide road ran from it 
south-east to join the Morgul-way, and along it many lines of small black 
shapes were hurrying. 

'I don’t like the look of things at all,' said Sam. ’Pretty hopeless, I 
call it - saving that where there's such a lot of folk there must be wells 
or water, not to mention food. And these are Men not Ores, or my eyes are 
all wrong.’ 

Neither he nor Frodo knew anything of the great slave- worked fields 
away south in this wide realm, beyond the fumes of the Mountain by the dark 
sad waters of Lake N®rnen; nor of the great roads that ran away east and 
south to tributary lands, from which the soldiers of the Tower brought long 
waggon-trains of goods and booty and fresh slaves. Here in the northward 
regions were the mines and forges, and the musterings of long-planned war; 
and here the Dark Power, moving its armies like pieces on the board, was 
gathering them together. Its first moves, the first feelers of its strength, 
had been checked upon its western line, southward and northward. For the 
moment it withdrew them, and brought up new forces, massing them about 
Cirith Gorgor for an avenging stroke. And if it had also been its purpose to 
defend the Mountain against all approach, it could scarcely have done more. 

’Well!’ Sam went on. ’Whatever they have to eat and drink, we can't get 
it. There's no way down that I can see. And we couldn’t cross all that open 
country crawling with enemies, even if we did get down.' 

’Still we shall have to try,' said Frodo. 'It's no worse than I 
expected. I never hoped to get across. I can't see any hope of it now. But 




I've still got to do the best I can. At present that is to avoid being 
captured as long as possible. So we must still go northwards, I think, and 
see what it is like where the open plain is narrower.' 

’I guess what it'll be like,' said Sam. 'Where it's narrower the Ores 
and Men will just be packed closer. You'll see, Mr. Frodo.' 

'I dare say I shall, if we ever get so far,' said Frodo and turned 
away. 

They soon found that it was impossible to make their way along the 
crest of the Morgai, or anywhere along its higher levels, pathless as they 
were and scored with deep ghylls. In the end they were forced to go back 
down the ravine that they had climbed and seek for a way along the valley. 

It was rough going, for they dared not cross over to the path on the 
westward side. After a mile or more they saw, huddled in a hollow at the 
cliffs foot, the ore-hold that they had guessed was near at hand: a wall 
and a cluster of stone huts set about the dark mouth of a cave. There was no 
movement to be seen, but the hobbits crept by cautiously, keeping as much as 
they could to the thorn-brakes that grew thickly at this point along both 
sides of the old water -course. 

They went two or three miles further, and the ore-hold was hidden from 
sight behind them; but they had hardly begun to breathe more freely again 
when harsh and loud they heard ore- voices. Quickly they slunk out of sight 
behind a brown and stunted bush. The voices drew nearer. Presently two ores 
came into view. One was clad in ragged brown and was armed with a bow of 
horn; it was of a small breed, black -skinned, with wide and snuffling 
nostrils: evidently a tracker of some kind. The other was a big 
fighting-ore, like those of Shagrat's company, bearing the token of the Eye. 

He also had a bow at his back and carried a short broad-headed spear. As 
usual they were quarrelling, and being of different breeds they used the 
Common Speech after their fashion. 

Hardly twenty paces from where the hobbits lurked the small ore 
stopped. 'Nar!' it snarled. 'I'm going home.' It pointed across the valley 
to the ore-hold. 'No good wearing my nose out on stones any more. There's 
not a trace left, I say. I've lost the scent through giving way to you. It 
went up into the hills, not along the valley, I tell you.' 

'Not much use are you, you little snufflers?' said the big ore. 'I 
reckon eyes are better than your snotty noses.' 

'Then what have you seen with them?' snarled the other. 'Garn! You 




don’t even know what you're looking for.' 

'Whose blame's that?' said the soldier. 'Not mine. That comes from 
Higher Up. First they say it's a great Elf in bright armour, then it's a 
sort of small dwarf-man, then it must be a pack of rebel Uruk-hai; or maybe 
it's all the lot together.' 

'Ar !' said the tracker. 'They've lost their heads, that's what it is. 

And some of the bosses are going to lose their skins too, I guess, if what I 
hear is true: Tower raided and all, and hundreds of your lads done in, and 
prisoner got away. If that's the way you fighters go on, small wonder 
there's bad news from the battles.' 

'Who says there's bad news?' shouted the soldier. 

'Ar! Who says there isn't?' 

'That's cursed rebel-talk, and I'll stick you, if you don't shut it 
down, see?' 

'All right, all right!' said the tracker. 'I'll say no more and go on 
thinking. But what's the black sneak got to do with it all? That gobbler 
with the flapping hands?' 

'I don't know. Nothing, maybe. But he's up to no good, nosing around, 
I'll wager. Curse him! No sooner had he slipped us and run off than word 
came he's wanted alive, wanted quick.' 

'Well, I hope they get him and put him through it,' growled the 
tracker. 'He messed up the scent back there, pinching that cast-off 
mail-shirt that he found, and paddling all round the place before I could 
get there.' 

'It saved his life anyhow,' said the soldier. 'Why, before I knew he 
was wanted I shot him, as neat as neat, at fifty paces right in the back; 
but he ran on.' 

'Garn! You missed him,' said the tracker. 'First you shoot wild, then 
you run too slow, and then you send for the poor trackers. I've had enough 
of you.' He loped off. 

'You come back,' shouted the soldier, 'or I'll report you!' 

'Who to? Not to your precious Shagrat. He won't be captain any more.' 

'I'll give your name and number to the Nazgyl,' said the soldier 
lowering his voice to a hiss. 'One of them ' s in charge at the Tower now.' 

The other halted, and his voice was full of fear and rage. 'You cursed 
peaching sneakthief!' he yelled. 'You can't do your job, and you can't even 
stick by your own folk. Go to your filthy Shriekers, and may they freeze the 




flesh off you! If the enemy doesn’t get them first. They've done in Number 
One, I've heard, and I hope it's true!' 

The big ore, spear in hand, leapt after him. But the tracker, springing 
behind a stone, put an arrow in his eye as he ran up, and he fell with a 
crash. The other ran off across the valley and disappeared. 

For a while the hobbits sat in silence. At length Sam stirred. 'Well I 
call that neat as neat,' he said. 'If this nice friendliness would spread 
about in Mordor, half our trouble would be over.' 

'Quietly, Sam,' Frodo whispered. 'There may be others about. We have 
evidently had a very narrow escape, and the hunt was hotter on our tracks 
than we guessed. But that is the spirit of Mordor, Sam; and it has spread to 
every corner of it. Ores have always behaved like that, or so all tales say, 
when they are on their own. But you can't get much hope out of it. They hate 
us far more, altogether and all the time. If those two had seen us, they 
would have dropped all their quarrel until we were dead.' 

There was another long silence. Sam broke it again, but with a whisper 
this time. 'Did you hear what they said about that gobbler , Mr. Frodo? I 
told you Gollum wasn't dead yet, didn't I?' 

'Yes, I remember. And I wondered how you knew,' said Frodo. 'Well come 
now! I think we had better not move out from here again, until it has gone 
quite dark. So you shall tell me how you know, and all about what happened. 
If you can do it quietly.' 

'I'll try,' said Sam, 'but when I think of that Stinker I get so hot 1 
could shout.' 

There the hobbits sat under the cover of the thorny bush, while the 
drear light of Mordor faded slowly into a deep and starless night; and Sam 
spoke into Frodo's ear all that he could find words for of Gollum's 
treacherous attack, the horror of Shelob, and his own adventures with the 
ores. When he had finished, Frodo said nothing but took Sam's hand and 
pressed it. At length he stirred. 

'Well, I suppose we must be going on again,' he said. 'I wonder how 
long it will be before we really are caught and all the toiling and the 
slinking will be over, and in vain.' He stood up. 'It's dark, and we cannot 
use the Lady's glass. Keep it safe for me, Sam. I have nowhere to keep it 
now, except in my hand, and I shall need both hands in the blind night. But 
Sting I give to you. I have got an ore -blade, but I do not think it will be 
my part to strike any blow again.' 




It was difficult and dangerous moving in the night in the pathless 
land; but slowly and with much stumbling the two hobbits toiled on hour by 
hour northward along the eastern edge of the stony valley. When a grey light 
crept back over the western heights, long after day had opened in the lands 
beyond, they went into hiding again and slept a little, turn by turn. In his 
times of waking Sam was busy with thoughts of food. At last when Frodo 
roused himself and spoke of eating and making ready for yet another effort, 
he asked the question that was troubling him most. 

'Begging your pardon, Mr. Frodo,' he said, 'but have you any notion how 
far there is still to go?' 

'No, not any clear notion, Sam,' Frodo answered. 'In Rivendell before I 
set out I was shown a map of Mordor that was made before the Enemy came 
back 

here; but I only remember it vaguely. I remember clearest that there was a 
place in the north where the western range and the northern range send out 
spurs that nearly meet. That must be twenty leagues at least from the bridge 
back by the Tower. It might be a good point at which to cross. But of 
course, if we get there, we shall be further than we were from the Mountain, 
sixty miles from it, I should think. I guess that we have gone about twelve 
leagues north from the bridge now. Even if all goes well, I could hardly 
reach the Mountain in a week. I am afraid, Sam, that the burden will get 
very heavy, and I shall go still slower as we get nearer.' 

Sam sighed. 'That's just as I feared,' he said. 'Well, to say nothing 
of water, we've got to eat less, Mr. Frodo, or else move a bit quicker, at 
any rate while we're still in this valley. One more bite and all the food's 
ended, save the Elves' waybread.' 

'I'll try and be a bit quicker, Sam,' said Frodo, drawing a deep 
breath. 'Come on then! Let's start another march!' 

It was not yet quite dark again. They plodded along, on into the night. 

The hours passed in a weary stumbling trudge with a few brief halts. At the 
first hint of grey light under the skirts of the canopy of shadow they hid 
themselves again in a dark hollow under an overhanging stone. 

Slowly the light grew, until it was clearer than it yet had been. A 
strong wind from the West was now driving the fumes of Mordor from the 
upper 

airs. Before long the hobbits could make out the shape of the land for some 
miles about them. The trough between the mountains and the Morgai had 




steadily dwindled as it climbed upwards, and the inner ridge was now no more 
than a shelf in the steep faces of the Ephel D®ath; but to the east it fell 
as sheerly as ever down into Gorgoroth. Ahead the water-course came to an 
end in broken steps of rock; for out from the main range there sprang a high 
barren spur, thrusting eastward like a wall. To meet it there stretched out 
from the grey and misty northern range of Ered Lithui a long jutting arm; 
and between the ends there was a narrow gap: Carach Angren, the Isenmouthe, 
beyond which lay the deep dale of Udyn. In that dale behind the Morannon 
were the tunnels and deep armouries that the servants of Mordor had made for 
the defence of the Black Gate of their land; and there now their Lord was 
gathering in haste great forces to meet the onslaught of the Captains of the 
West. Upon the out-thrust spurs forts and towers were built, and watch-fires 
burned; and all across the gap an earth-wall had been raised, and a deep 
trench delved that could be crossed only by a single bridge. 

A few miles north, high up in the angle where the western spur branched 
away from the main range, stood the old castle of Durthang, now one of the 
many ore-holds that clustered about the dale of Udyn. A road, already 
visible in the growing light, came winding down from it, until only a mile 
or two from where the hobbits lay it turned east and ran along a shelf cut 
in the side of the spur, and so went down into the plain, and on to the 
Isenmouthe. 

To the hobbits as they looked out it seemed that all their journey 
north had been useless. The plain to their right was dim and smoky, and they 
could see there neither camps nor troops moving; but all that region was 
under the vigilance of the forts of Carach Angren. 

'We have come to a dead end, Sam,' said Frodo. 'If we go on, we shall 
only come up to that ore-tower, but the only road to take is that road that 
comes down from it - unless we go back. We can't climb up westward, or climb 
down eastward.' 

'Then we must take the road, Mr. Frodo,' said Sam. 'We must take it and 
chance our luck, if there is any luck in Mordor. We might as well give 
ourselves up as wander about any more, or try to go back. Our food won't 
last. We've got to make a dash for it!' 

'All right, Sam,' said Frodo. 'Lead me! As long as you've got any hope 
left. Mine is gone. But I can't dash, Sam. I'll just plod along after you.' 

'Before you start any more plodding, you need sleep and food, Mr. 

Frodo. Come and take what you can get of them!' 




He gave Frodo water and an additional wafer of the waybread, and he 
made a pillow of his cloak for his master's head. Frodo was too weary to 
debate the matter, and Sam did not tell him that he had drunk the last drop 
of their water, and eaten Sam's share of the food as well as his own. When 
Frodo was asleep Sam bent over him and listened to his breathing and scanned 
his face. It was lined and thin, and yet in sleep it looked content and 
unafraid. 'Well, here goes, Master!' Sam muttered to himself. 'I'll have to 
leave you for a bit and trust to luck. Water we must have, or we'll get no 
further.' 

Sam crept out, and flitting from stone to stone with more than 
hobbit-care, he went down to the water -course, and then followed it for some 
way as it climbed north, until he came to the rock-steps where long ago, no 
doubt, its spring had come gushing down in a little waterfall. All now 
seemed dry and silent; but refusing to despair Sam stooped and listened, and 
to his delight he caught the sound of trickling. Clambering a few steps up 
he found a tiny stream of dark water that came out from the hill-side and 
filled a little bare pool, from which again it spilled, and vanished then 
under the barren stones. 

Sam tasted the water, and it seemed good enough. Then he drank deeply, 
refilled the bottle, and turned to go back. At that moment he caught a 
glimpse of a black form or shadow flitting among the rocks away near Frodo's 
hiding-place. Biting back a cry, he leapt down from the spring and ran, 
jumping from stone to stone. It was a wary creature, difficult to see, but 
Sam had little doubt about it: he longed to get his hands on its neck. But 
it heard him coming and slipped quickly away. Sam thought he saw a last 
fleeting glimpse of it, peering back over the edge of the eastward 
precipice, before it ducked and disappeared. 

'Well, luck did not let me down,' muttered Sam, 'but that was a near 
thing! Isn't it enough to have ores by the thousand without that stinking 
villain coming nosing round? I wish he had been shot!' He sat down by Frodo 
and did not rouse him; but he did not dare to go to sleep himself. At last 
when he felt his eyes closing and knew that his struggle to keep awake could 
not go on much longer, he wakened Frodo gently. 

'That Gollum's about again, I'm afraid, Mr. Frodo,' he said. 
'Leastways, if it wasn't him, then there's two of him. I went away to find 
some water and spied him nosing round just as I turned back. I reckon it 
isn't safe for us both to sleep together, and begging your pardon, but I 




can't hold up my lids much longer.' 

'Bless you, Sam!' said Frodo. 'Lie down and take your proper turn! But 
I'd rather have Gollum than ores. At any rate he won't give us away to them 
- not unless he's caught himself.' 

'But he might do a bit of robbery and murder on his own,' growled Sam. 
'Keep your eyes open, Mr. Frodo! There's a bottle full of water. Drink up. 

We can fill it again when we go on.' With that Sam plunged into sleep. 

Light was fading when he woke. Frodo sat propped against the rock 
behind, but he had fallen asleep. The water-bottle was empty. There was no 
sign of Gollum. 

Mordor-dark had returned, and the watch-fires on the heights burned 
fierce and red, when the hobbits set out again on the most dangerous stage 
of all their journey. They went first to the little spring, and then 
climbing warily up they came to the road at the point where it swung east 
towards the Isenmouthe twenty miles away. It was not a broad road, and it 
had no wall or parapet along the edge and as it ran on the sheer drop from 
its brink became deeper and deeper. The hobbits could hear no movements, and 
after listening for a while they set off eastward at a steady pace. 

After doing some twelve miles, they halted. A short way back the road 
had bent a little northward and the stretch that they had passed over was 
now screened from sight. This proved disastrous. They rested for some 
minutes and then went on; but they had not taken many steps when suddenly in 
the stillness of the night they heard the sound that all along they had 
secretly dreaded: the noise of marching feet. It was still some way behind 
them, but looking back they could see the twinkle of torches coming round 
the bend less than a mile away, and they were moving fast: too fast for 
Frodo to escape by flight along the road ahead. 

'I feared it, Sam,' said Frodo. 'We've trusted to luck, and it has 
failed us. We're trapped.' He looked wildly up at the frowning wall, where 
the road-builders of old had cut the rock sheer for many fathoms above their 
heads. He ran to the other side and looked over the brink into a dark pit of 
gloom. 'We're trapped at last!' he said He sank to the ground beneath the 
wall of rock and bowed his head. 

'Seems so,' said Sam. 'Well, we can but wait and see.' And with that he 
sat down beside Frodo under the shadow of the cliff. 

They did not have to wait long. The ores were going at a great pace. 

Those in the foremost files bore torches. On they came, red flames in the 




dark, swiftly growing. Now Sam too bowed his head, hoping that it would hide 
his face when the torches reached them; and he set their shields before 
their knees to hide their feet. 

'If only they are in a hurry and will let a couple of tired soldiers 
alone and pass on!' he thought. 

And so it seemed that they would. The leading ores came loping along, 
panting, holding their heads down. They were a gang of the smaller breeds 
being driven unwilling to their Dark Lord's wars; all they cared for was to 
get the march over and escape the whip. Beside them, running up and down the 
line, went two of the large fierce uruks, cracking lashes and shouting. File 
after file passed, and the tell-tale torchlight was already some way ahead. 

Sam held his breath. Now more than half the line had gone by. Then suddenly 
one of the slave-drivers spied the two figures by the road-side. He flicked 
a whip at them and yelled: 'Hi, you! Get up!' They did not answer, and with 
a shout he halted the whole company. 

'Come on, you slugs!' he cried. 'This is no time for slouching.' He 
took a step towards them, and even in the gloom he recognized the devices on 
their shields. 'Deserting, eh?' he snarled. 'Or thinking of it? All your 
folk should have been inside Udyn before yesterday evening. You know that. 
Up you get and fall in, or I'll have your numbers and report you.' 

They struggled to their feet, and keeping bent, limping like footsore 
soldiers, they shuffled back towards the rear of the line. 'No, not at the 
rear!' the slave-driver shouted. 'Three files up. And stay there, or you'll 
know it, when I come down the line!' He sent his long whip-lash cracking 
over their heads; then with another crack and a yell he started the company 
off again at a brisk trot. 

It was hard enough for poor Sam, tired as he was; but for Frodo it was 
a torment, and soon a nightmare. He set his teeth and tried to stop his mind 
from thinking, and he struggled on. The stench of the sweating ores about 
him was stifling, and he began to gasp with thirst. On, on they went, and he 
bent all his will to draw his breath and to make his legs keep going; and 
yet to what evil end he toiled and endured he did not dare to think. There 
was no hope of falling out unseen: Now and again the ore-driver fell back 
and jeered at them. 

'There now!' he laughed, flicking at their legs. 'Where there's a whip 
there's a will, my slugs. Hold up! I'd give you a nice freshener now, only 
you'll get as much lash as your skins will carry when you come in late to 




your camp. Do you good. Don’t you know we’re at war?' 

They had gone some miles, and the road was at last running down a long 
slope into the plain, when Frodo’s strength began to give out and his will 
wavered. He lurched and stumbled. Desperately Sam tried to help him and hold 
him up, though he felt that he could himself hardly stay the pace much 
longer. At any moment now he knew that the end would come: his master 
would 

faint or fall, and all would be discovered, and their bitter efforts be in 
vain. 'I'll have that big slave-driving devil anyway,' he thought. 

Then just as he was putting his hand to the hilt of his sword, there 
came an unexpected relief. They were out on the plain now and drawing near 
the entrance to Udyn. Some way in front of it, before the gate at the 
bridge-end, the road from the west converged with others coming from the 
south, and from Barad-dyr. Along all the roads troops were moving; for the 
Captains of the West were advancing and the Dark Lord was speeding his 
forces north. So it chanced that several companies came together at the 
road-meeting, in the dark beyond the light of the watch-fires on the wall. 

At once there was great jostling and cursing as each troop tried to get 
first to the gate and the ending of their march. Though the drivers yelled 
and plied their whips, scuffles broke out and some blades were drawn. A 
troop of heavy -armed uruks from Barad-dyr charged into the Durthang line and 
threw them into confusion. 

Dazed as he was with pain and weariness, Sam woke up, grasped quickly 
at his chance, and threw himself to the ground, dragging Frodo down with 
him. Ores fell over them, snarling and cursing. Slowly on hand and knee the 
hobbits crawled away out of the turmoil, until at last unnoticed they 
dropped over the further edge of the road. It had a high kerb by which 
troop-leaders could guide themselves in black night or fog, and it was 
banked up some feet above the level of the open land. 

They lay still for a while. It was too dark to seek for cover, if 
indeed there was any to find; but Sam felt that they ought at least to get 
further away from the highways and out of the range of torch-light. 

'Come on, Mr. Frodo!' he whispered. 'One more crawl, and then you can 
lie still.' 

With a last despairing effort Frodo raised himself on his hands, and 
struggled on for maybe twenty yards. Then he pitched down into a shallow pit 
that opened unexpectedly before them, and there he lay like a dead thing. 




Chapter 3 . Mount Doom 



Sam put his ragged orc-cloak under his master's head, and covered them 
both with the grey robe of Lurien; and as he did so his thoughts went out to 
that fair land, and to the Elves, and he hoped that the cloth woven by their 
hands might have some virtue to keep them hidden beyond all hope in this 
wilderness of fear. He heard the scuffling and cries die down as the troops 
passed on through the Isenmouthe. It seemed that in the confusion and the 
mingling of many companies of various kinds they had not been missed, not 
yet at any rate. 

Sam took a sip of water, but pressed Frodo to drink, and when his 
master had recovered a little he gave him a whole wafer of their precious 
waybread and made him eat it. Then, too worn out even to feel much fear, 
they stretched themselves out. They slept a little in uneasy fits; for their 
sweat grew chill on them, and the hard stones bit them, and they shivered. 
Out of the north from the Black Gate through Cirith Gorgor there flowed 
whispering along the ground a thin cold air. 

In the morning a grey light came again, for in the high regions the 
West Wind still blew, but down on the stones behind the fences of the Black 
Land the air seemed almost dead, chill and yet stifling. Sam looked up out 
of the hollow. The land all about was dreary, flat and drab-hued. On the 
roads nearby nothing was moving now; but Sam feared the watchful eyes on 
the 

wall of the Isenmouthe, no more than a furlong away northward. 
South-eastward, far off like a dark standing shadow, loomed the Mountain. 
Smokes were pouring from it and while those that rose into the upper air 
trailed away eastward, great rolling clouds floated down its sides and 
spread over the land. A few miles to the north-east the foothills of the 
Ashen Mountains stood like sombre grey ghosts, behind which the misty 
northern heights rose like a line of distant cloud hardly darker than the 
lowering sky. 

Sam tried to guess the distances and to decide what way they ought to 
take. It looks every step of fifty miles,’ he muttered gloomily staring at 
the threatening mountain, 'and that'll take a week, if it takes a day, with 
Mr. Frodo as he is.' He shook his head, and as he worked things out, slowly 




a new dark thought grew in his mind. Never for long had hope died in his 
staunch heart, and always until now he had taken some thought for their 
return. But the bitter truth came home to him at last: at best their 
provision would take them to their goal; and when the task was done, there 
they would come to an end, alone, houseless, foodless in the midst of a 
terrible desert. There could be no return. 

’So that was the job I felt I had to do when I started,' thought Sam: 

'to help Mr. Frodo to the last step and then die with him? Well, if that is 
the job then I must do it. But I would dearly like to see By water again, and 
Rosie Cotton and her brothers, and the Gaffer and Marigold and all. I can't 
think somehow that Gandalf would have sent Mr. Frodo on this errand if there 
hadn't a' been any hope of his ever coming back at all. Things all went 
wrong when he went down in Moria. I wish he hadn't. He would have done 
something.' 

But even as hope died in Sam, or seemed to die, it was turned to a new 
strength. Sam's plain hobbit-face grew stern, almost grim, as the will 
hardened in him, and he felt through all his limbs a thrill, as if he was 
turning into some creature of stone and steel that neither despair nor 
weariness nor endless barren miles could subdue. 

With a new sense of responsibility he brought his eyes back to the 
ground near at hand, studying the next move. As the light grew a little he 
saw to his surprise that what from a distance had seemed wide and 
featureless flats were in fact all broken and tumbled. Indeed the whole 
surface of the plains of Gorgoroth was pocked with great holes, as if, while 
it was still a waste of soft mud, it had been smitten with a shower of bolts 
and huge slingstones. The largest of these holes were rimmed with ridges of 
broken rock, and broad fissures ran out from them in all directions. It was 
a land in which it would be possible to creep from hiding to hiding, unseen 
by all but the most watchful eyes: possible at least for one who was strong 
and had no need for speed. For the hungry and worn, who had far to go before 
life failed, it had an evil look. 

Thinking of all these things Sam went back to his master. He had no 
need to rouse him. Frodo was lying on his back with eyes open, staring at 
the cloudy sky. 'Well, Mr. Frodo,' said Sam, 'I've been having a look round 
and thinking a bit. There's nothing on the roads, and we'd best be getting 
away while there's a chance. Can you manage it?' 

'I can manage it,' said Frodo. 'I must.' 




Once more they started, crawling from hollow to hollow, flitting behind 
such cover as they could find, but moving always in a slant towards the 
foothills of the northern range. But as they went the most easterly of the 
roads followed them, until it ran off, hugging the skirts of the mountains, 
away into a wall of black shadow far ahead. Neither man nor ore now moved 
along its flat grey stretches; for the Dark Lord had almost completed the 
movement of his forces, and even in the fastness of his own realm he sought 
the secrecy of night, fearing the winds of the world that had turned against 
him, tearing aside his veils, and troubled with tidings of bold spies that 
had passed through his fences. 

The hobbits had gone a few weary miles when they halted. Frodo seemed 
nearly spent. Sam saw that he could not go much further in this fashion, 
crawling, stooping, now picking a doubtful way very slowly, now hurrying at 
a stumbling run. 

'I'm going back on to the road while the light lasts, Mr. Frodo,' he 
said. 'Trust to luck again! It nearly failed us last time, but it didn't 
quite. A steady pace for a few more miles, and then a rest.' 

He was taking a far greater risk than he knew; but Frodo was too much 
occupied with his burden and with the struggle in his mind to debate, and 
almost too hopeless to care. They climbed on to the causeway and trudged 
along, down the hard cruel road that led to the Dark Tower itself. But their 
luck held, and for the rest of that day they met no living or moving thing; 
and when night fell they vanished into the darkness of Mordor. All the land 
now brooded as at the coming of a great storm: for the Captains of the West 
had passed the Cross-roads and set flames in the deadly fields of Imlad 
Morgul. 

So the desperate journey went on, as the Ring went south and the 
banners of the kings rode north. For the hobbits each day, each mile, was 
more bitter than the one before, as their strength lessened and the land 
became more evil. They met no enemies by day. At times by night, as they 
cowered or drowsed uneasily in some hiding beside the road, they heard cries 
and the noise of many feet or the swift passing of some cruelly ridden 
steed. But far worse than all such perils was the ever -approaching threat 
that beat upon them as they went: the dreadful menace of the Power that 
waited, brooding in deep thought and sleepless malice behind the dark veil 
about its Throne. Nearer and nearer it drew, looming blacker, like the 
oncoming of a wall of night at the last end of the world. 




There came at last a dreadful nightfall; and even as the Captains of 
the West drew near to the end of the living lands, the two wanderers came to 
an hour of blank despair. Four days had passed since they had escaped from 
the ores, but the time lay behind them like an ever -darkening dream. All 
this last day Frodo had not spoken, but had walked half-bowed, often 
stumbling, as if his eyes no longer saw the way before his feet. Sam guessed 
that among all their pains he bore the worst, the growing weight of the 
Ring, a burden on the body and a torment to his mind. Anxiously Sam had 
noted how his master's left hand would often be raised as if to ward on a 
blow, or to screen his shrinking eyes from a dreadful Eye that sought to 
look in them. And sometimes his right hand would creep to his breast, 
clutching, and then slowly, as the will recovered mastery, it would be 
withdrawn. 

Now as the blackness of night returned Frodo sat, his head between his 
knees, his arms hanging wearily to the ground where his hands lay feebly 
twitching. Sam watched him, till night covered them both and hid them from 
one another. Fie could no longer find any words to say; and he turned to his 
own dark thoughts. As for himself, though weary and under a shadow of fear, 
he still had some strength left. The lembas had a virtue without which they 
would long ago have lain down to die. It did not satisfy desire, and at 
times Sam's mind was filled with the memories of food, and the longing for 
simple bread and meats. And yet this way bread of the Elves had a potency 
that increased as travellers relied on it alone and did not mingle it with 
other foods. It fed the will, and it gave strength to endure, and to master 
sinew and limb beyond the measure of mortal kind. But now a new decision 
must be made. They could not follow this road any longer; for it went on 
eastward into the great Shadow, but the Mountain now loomed upon their 
right, almost due south, and they must turn towards it. Yet still before it 
there stretched a wide region of fuming, barren, ash-ridden land. 

'Water, water!' muttered Sam. He had stinted himself, and in his 
parched mouth his tongue seemed thick and swollen; but for all his care they 
now had very little left, perhaps half his bottle, and maybe there were 
still days to go. All would long ago have been spent, if they had not dared 
to follow the ore-road. For at long intervals on that highway cisterns had 
been built for the use of troops sent in haste through the waterless 
regions. In one Sam had found some water left, stale, muddied by the ores, 
but still sufficient for their desperate case. Yet that was now a day ago. 




There was no hope of any more. 

At last wearied with his cares Sam drowsed, leaving the morrow till it 
came; he could do no more. Dream and waking mingled uneasily. He saw 
lights 

like gloating yes, and dark creeping shapes, and he heard noises as of wild 
beasts or the dreadful cries of tortured things; and he would start up to 
find the world all dark and only empty blackness all about him. Once only, 
as he stood and stared wildly round, did it seem that, though now awake, he 
could still see pale lights like eyes; but soon they flickered and vanished. 

The hateful night passed slowly and reluctantly. Such daylight as 
followed was dim; for here as the Mountain drew near the air was ever mirky, 
while out from the Dark Tower there crept the veils of Shadow that Sauron 
wove about himself. Frodo was lying on his back not moving. Sam stood 
beside 

him, reluctant to speak, and yet knowing that the word now lay with him: he 
must set his master's will to work for another effort. At length, stooping 
and caressing Frodo's brow, he spoke in his ear. 

'Wake up, Master!' he said. 'Time for another start.' 

As if roused by a sudden bell, Frodo rose quickly, and stood up and 
looked away southwards; but when his eyes beheld the Mountain and the desert 
he quailed again. 

'I can't manage it, Sam,' he said. 'It is such a weight to carry, such 
a weight.' 

Sam knew before he spoke, that it was vain, and that such words might 
do more harm than good, but in his pity he could not keep silent. 'Then let 
me carry it a bit for you, Master,' he said. 'You know I would, and gladly, 
as long as I have any strength.' 

A wild light came into Frodo's eyes. 'Stand away! Don't touch me!' he 
cried. 'It is mine, I say. Be off!' His hand strayed to his sword-hilt. But 
then quickly his voice changed. 'No, no, Sam,' he said sadly. 'But you must 
understand. It is my burden, and no one else can bear it. It is too late 
now, Sam dear. You can't help me in that way again. I am almost in its power 
now. I could not give it up, and if you tried to take it I should go mad.' 

Sam nodded. 'I understand,' he said. 'But I've been thinking, Mr. 

Frodo, there's other things we might do without. Why not lighten the load a 
bit? We're going that way now, as straight as we can make it.' He pointed to 
the Mountain. 'It's no good taking anything we're not sure to need.' 




Frodo looked again towards the Mountain. 'No,' he said, ’we shan't need 
much on that road. And at its end nothing.' Picking up his ore-shield he 
flung it away and threw his helmet after it. Then pulling off the grey cloak 
he undid the heavy belt and let it fall to the ground, and the sheathed 
sword with it. The shreds of the black cloak he tore off and scattered. 

'There, I'll be an ore no more,' he cried, 'and I'll bear no weapon 
fair or foul. Let them take me, if they will!' 

Sam did likewise, and put aside his ore-gear; and he took out all the 
things in his pack. Somehow each of them had become dear to him, if only 
because he had borne them so far with so much toil. Hardest of all it was to 
part with his cooking-gear. Tears welled in his eyes at the thought of 
casting it away. 

'Do you remember that bit of rabbit, Mr. Frodo?' he said. 'And our 
place under the warm bank in Captain Faramir's country, the day I saw an 
oliphaunt?' 

'No, I am afraid not, Sam,' said Frodo. 'At least, I know that such 
things happened, but I cannot see them. No taste of food, no feel of water, 
no sound of wind, no memory of tree or grass or flower, no image of moon or 
star are left to me. I am naked in the dark. Sam, and there is no veil 
between me and the wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my waking 
eyes, and all else fades.' 

Sam went to him and kissed his hand. 'Then the sooner we're rid of it, 
the sooner to rest,' he said haltingly, finding no better words to say. 

'Talking won't mend nothing,' he muttered to himself, as he gathered up all 
the things that they had chosen to cast away. He was not willing to leave 
them lying open in the wilderness for any eyes to see. 'Stinker picked up 
that ore-shirt, seemingly, and he isn't going to add a sword to it. His 
hands are bad enough when empty. And he isn't going to mess with my pans!' 
With that he carried all the gear away to one of the many gaping fissures 
that scored the land and threw them in. The clatter of his precious pans as 
they fell down into the dark was like a death-knell to his heart. 

He came back to Frodo, and then of his elven-rope he cut a short piece 
to serve his master as a girdle and bind the grey cloak close about his 
waist. The rest he carefully coiled and put back in his pack. Beside that he 
kept only the remnants of their waybread and the water-bottle, and Sting 
still hanging by his belt; and hidden away in a pocket of his tunic next his 
breast the phial of Galadriel and the little box that she gave him for his 




own. 

Now at last they turned their faces to the Mountain and set out, 
thinking no more of concealment, bending their weariness and failing wills 
only to the one task of going on. In the dimness of its dreary day few 
things even in that land of vigilance could have espied them, save from 
close at hand. Of all the slaves of the Dark Lord, only the Nazgyl could 
have warned him of the peril that crept, small but indomitable, into the 
very heart of his guarded realm. But the Nazgyl and their black wings were 
abroad on another errand: they were gathered far away, shadowing the march 
of the Captains of the West, and thither the thought of the Dark Tower was 
turned. 

That day it seemed to Sam that his master had found some new strength, 
more than could be explained by the small lightening of the load that he had 
to carry. In the first marches they went further and faster than he had 
hoped. The land was rough and hostile, and yet they made much progress, and 
ever the Mountain drew nearer. But as the day wore on and all too soon the 
dim light began to fail, Frodo stooped again, and began to stagger, as if 
the renewed effort had squandered his remaining strength. 

At their last halt he sank down and said: Tm thirsty, Sam,’ and did 
not speak again. Sam gave him a mouthful of water; only one more mouthful 
remained. He went without himself; and now as once more the night of 
Mordor 

closed over them, through all his thoughts there came the memory of water; 
and every brook or stream or fount that he had ever seen, under green 
willow-shades or twinkling in the sun, danced and rippled for his torment 
behind the blindness of his eyes. He felt the cool mud about his toes as he 
paddled in the Pool at Bywater with Jolly Cotton and Tom and Nibs, and their 
sister Rosie. 'But that was years ago,' he sighed, 'and far away. The way 
back, if there is one, goes past the Mountain.' 

He could not sleep and he held a debate with himself. 'Well, come now, 
we've done better than you hoped,' he said sturdily. 'Began well anyway. I 
reckon we crossed half the distance before we stopped. One more day will do 
it.' And then he paused. 

'Don't be a fool, Sam Gamgee,' came an answer in his own voice. 'He 
won't go another day like that, if he moves at all. And you can't go on much 
longer giving him all the water and most of the food.' 

'I can go on a good way though, and I will.' 




'Where to?' 

’To the Mountain, of course.' 

'But what then, Sam Gamgee, what then? When you get there, what are you 
going to do? He won't be able to do anything for himself.' 

To his dismay Sam realized that he had not got an answer to this. He 
had no clear idea at all. Frodo had not spoken much to him of his errand, 
and Sam only knew vaguely that the Ring had somehow to be put into the fire. 
'The Cracks of Doom,' he muttered, the old name rising to his mind. 'Well, 
if Master knows how to find them, I don't.' 

'There you are!' came the answer. 'It's all quite useless. He said so 
himself. You are the fool, going on hoping and toiling. You could have lain 
down and gone to sleep together days ago, if you hadn't been so dogged. But 
you'll die just the same, or worse. You might just as well lie down now and 
give it up. You'll never get to the top anyway.' 

'I'll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind,' said Sam. 

'And I'll carry Mr. Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart. So stop 
arguing!' 

At that moment Sam felt a tremor in the ground beneath him, and he 
heard or sensed a deep remote rumble as of thunder imprisoned under the 
earth. There was a brief red flame that flickered under the clouds and died 
away. The Mountain too slept uneasily. 

The last stage of their journey to Orodruin came, and it was a torment 
greater than Sam had ever thought that he could bear. He was in pain, and so 
parched that he could no longer swallow even a mouthful of food. It remained 
dark, not only because of the smokes of the Mountain: there seemed to be a 
storm coming up, and away to the south-east there was a shimmer of 
lightnings under the black skies. Worst of all, the air was full of fumes; 
breathing was painful and difficult, and a dizziness came on them, so that 
they staggered and often fell. And yet their wills did not yield, and they 
struggled on. 

The Mountain crept up ever nearer, until, if they lifted their heavy 
heads, it filled all their sight, looming vast before them: a huge mass of 
ash and slag and burned stone, out of which a sheer-sided cone was raised 
into the clouds. Before the daylong dusk ended and true night came again 
they had crawled and stumbled to its very feet. 

With a gasp Frodo cast himself on the ground. Sam sat by him. To his 
surprise he felt tired but lighter, and his head seemed clear again. No more 




debates disturbed his mind. He knew all the arguments of despair and would 
not listen to them. His will was set, and only death would break it. He felt 
no longer either desire or need of sleep, but rather of watchfulness. He 
knew that all the hazards and perils were now drawing together to a point: 
the next day would be a day of doom, the day of final effort or disaster, 
the last gasp. 

But when would it come? The night seemed endless and timeless, minute 
after minute falling dead and adding up to no passing hour, bringing no 
change. Sam began to wonder if a second darkness had begun and no day 
would 

ever reappear. At last he groped for Frodo's hand. It was cold and 
trembling. His master was shivering. 

'I didn't ought to have left my blanket behind,' muttered Sam; and 
lying down he tried to comfort Frodo with his arms and body. Then sleep took 
him, and the dim fight of the last day of their quest found them side by 
side. The wind had fallen the day before as it shifted from the West, and 
now it came from the North and began to rise; and slowly the light of the 
unseen Sun filtered down into the shadows where the hobbits lay. 

'Now for it! Now for the last gasp!' said Sam as he struggled to his 
feet. He bent over Frodo, rousing him gently. Frodo groaned; but with a 
great effort of will he staggered up; and then he fell upon his knees again. 

He raised his eyes with difficulty to the dark slopes of Mount Doom towering 
above him, and then pitifully he began to crawl forward on his hands. 

Sam looked at him and wept in his heart, but no tears came to his dry 
and stinging eyes. 'I said I'd carry him, if it broke my back,' he muttered, 

'and I will!' 

'Come, Mr. Frodo!' he cried. 'I can't carry it for you, but I can carry 
you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give 
you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he'll go.' 

As Frodo clung upon his back, arms loosely about his neck, legs clasped 
firmly under his arms, Sam staggered to his feet; and then to his amazement 
he felt the burden light. He had feared that he would have barely strength 
to lift his master alone, and beyond that he had expected to share in the 
dreadful dragging weight of the accursed Ring. But it was not so. Whether 
because Frodo was so worn by his long pains, wound of knife, and venomous 
sting, and sorrow, fear, and homeless wandering, or because some gift of 
final strength was given to him, Sam lifted Frodo with no more difficulty 




than if he were carrying a hobbit-child pig-a-back in some romp on the lawns 
or hayfields of the Shire. He took a deep breath and started off. 

They had reached the Mountain's foot on its northern side, and a little 
to the westward; there its long grey slopes, though broken, were not sheer. 
Frodo did not speak, and so Sam struggled on as best he could, having no 
guidance but the will to climb as high as might be before his strength gave 
out and his will broke. On he toiled, up and up, turning this way and that 
to lessen the slope, often stumbling forward, and at the last crawling like 
a snail with a heavy burden on its back. When his will could drive him no 
further, and his limbs gave way, he stopped and laid his master gently down. 

Frodo opened his eyes and drew a breath. It was easier to breathe up 
here above the reeks that coiled and drifted down below. ’Thank you, Sam,' 
he said in a cracked whisper. 'How far is there to go?' 

'I don't know,' said Sam, 'because I don't know where we're going.' 

He looked back, and then he looked up; and he was amazed to see how far 
his last effort had brought him. The Mountain standing ominous and alone had 
looked taller than it was. Sam saw now that it was less lofty than the high 
passes of the Ephel D®ath which he and Frodo had scaled. The confused and 
tumbled shoulders of its great base rose for maybe three thousand feet above 
the plain, and above them was reared half as high again its tall central 
cone, like a vast oast or chimney capped with a jagged crater. But already 
Sam was more than half way up the base, and the plain of Gorgoroth was dim 
below him, wrapped in fume and shadow. As he looked up he would have 
given a 

shout, if his parched throat had allowed him; for amid the rugged humps and 
shoulders above him he saw plainly a path or road. It climbed like a rising 
girdle from the west and wound snakelike about the Mountain, until before it 
went round out of view it reached the foot of the cone upon its eastern 
side. 

Sam could not see the course immediately above him, where it was 
lowest, for a steep slope went up from where he stood; but he guessed that 
if he could only struggle on just a little way further up, they would strike 
this path. A gleam of hope returned to him. They might conquer the Mountain 
yet. 'Why, it might have been put there a-purpose!' he said to himself. 'If 
it wasn't there, I'd have to say I was beaten in the end.' 

The path was not put there for the purposes of Sam. He did not know it, 
but he was looking at Sauron's Road from Barad-dyr to the Sammath Naur, the 




Chambers of Fire. Out from the Dark Tower's huge western gate it came over a 
deep abyss by a vast bridge of iron, and then passing into the plain it ran 
for a league between two smoking chasms, and so reached a long sloping 
causeway that led up on to the Mountain's eastern side. Thence, turning and 
encircling all its wide girth from south to north, it climbed at last, high 
in the upper cone, but still far from the reeking summit, to a dark entrance 
that gazed back east straight to the Window of the Eye in Sauron’s 
shadow-mantled fortress. Often blocked or destroyed by the tumults of the 
Mountain’s furnaces, always that road was repaired and cleaned again by the 
labours of countless ores. 

Sam drew a deep breath. There was a path, but how he was to get up the 
slope to it he did not know. First he must ease his aching back. Fie lay flat 
beside Frodo for a while. Neither spoke. Slowly the light grew. Suddenly a 
sense of urgency which he did not understand came to Sam. It was almost as 
if he had been called: 'Now, now, or it will be too late!' He braced himself 
and got up. Frodo also seemed to have felt the call. He struggled to his 
knees. 

'I'll crawl, Sam,' he gasped. 

So foot by foot, like small grey insects, they crept up the slope. They 
came to the path and found that it was broad, paved with broken rubble and 
beaten ash. Frodo clambered on to it, and then moved as if by some 
compulsion he turned slowly to face the East. Far off the shadows of Sauron 
hung; but torn by some gust of wind out of the world, or else moved by some 
great disquiet within, the mantling clouds swirled, and for a moment drew 
aside; and then he saw, rising black, blacker and darker than the vast 
shades amid which it stood, the cruel pinnacles and iron crown of the 
topmost tower of Barad-dyr. One moment only it stared out, but as from some 
great window immeasurably high there stabbed northward a flame of red, the 
flicker of a piercing Eye; and then the shadows were furled again and the 
terrible vision was removed. The Eye was not turned to them: it was gazing 
north to where the Captains of the West stood at bay, and thither all its 
malice was now bent, as the Power moved to strike its deadly blow; but Frodo 
at that dreadful glimpse fell as one stricken mortally. His hand sought the 
chain about his neck. 

Sam knelt by him. Faint, almost inaudibly, he heard Frodo whispering: 
'Help me, Sam! Help me, Sam! Hold my hand! I can't stop it.' Sam took his 
master's hands and laid them together, palm to palm, and kissed them; and 




then he held them gently between his own. The thought came suddenly to him: 
'He's spotted us! It's all up, or it soon will be. Now, Sam Gamgee, this is 
the end of ends.' 

Again he lifted Frodo and drew his hands down to his own breast, 
letting his master's legs dangle. Then he bowed his head and struggled off 
along the climbing road. It was not as easy a way to take as it had looked 
at first. By fortune the fires that had poured forth in the great turmoils 
when Sam stood upon Cirith Ungol had flowed down mainly on the southern 
and 

western slopes, and the road on this side was not blocked. Yet in many 
places it had crumbled away or was crossed by gaping rents. After climbing 
eastward for some time it bent back upon itself at a sharp angle and went 
westward fox a space. There at the bend it was cut deep through a crag of 
old weathered stone once long ago vomited from the Mountain's furnaces. 
Panting under his load Sam turned the bend; and even as he did so, out of 
the corner of his eye, he had a glimpse of something falling from the crag, 
like a small piece of black stone that had toppled off as he passed. 

A sudden weight smote him and he crashed forward, tearing the backs of 
his hands that still clasped his master's. Then he knew what had happened, 
for above him as he lay he heard a hated voice. 

'Wicked masster!' it hissed. 'Wicked masster cheats us; cheats Smjagol, 
gollum. He musstn't go that way. He musstn'thurt Preciouss. Give it to 
Smjagol, yess, give it to us! Give it to uss!' 

With a violent heave Sam rose up. At once he drew his sword; but he 
could do nothing. Gollum and Frodo were locked together. Gollum was tearing 
at his master, trying to get at the chain and the Ring. This was probably 
the only thing that could have roused the dying embers of Frodo's heart and 
will: an attack, an attempt to wrest his treasure from him by force. He 
fought back with a sudden fury that amazed Sam, and Gollum also. Even so 
things might have gone far otherwise, if Gollum himself had remained 
unchanged; but whatever dreadful paths, lonely and hungry and waterless, he 
had trodden, driven by a devouring desire and a terrible fear, they had left 
grievous marks on him. He was a lean, starved, haggard thing, all bones and 
tight-drawn sallow skin. A wild light flamed in his eyes, but his malice was 
no longer matched by his old griping strength. Frodo flung him off and rose 
up quivering. 

'Down, down!' he gasped, clutching his hand to his breast, so that 




beneath the cover of his leather shirt he clasped the Ring. 'Down you 
creeping thing, and out of my path! Your time is at an end. You cannot 
betray me or slay me now.' 

Then suddenly, as before under the eaves of the Emyn Muil, Sam saw 
these two rivals with other vision. A crouching shape, scarcely more than 
the shadow of a living thing, a creature now wholly ruined and defeated, yet 
filled with a hideous lust and rage; and before it stood stern, untouchable 
now by pity, a figure robed in white, but at its breast it held a wheel of 
fire. Out of the fire there spoke a commanding voice. 

'Begone, and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall 
be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.' 

The crouching shape backed away, terror in its blinking eyes, and yet 
at the same time insatiable desire. 

Then the vision passed and Sam saw Frodo standing, hand on breast, his 
breath coming in great gasps, and Gollum at his feet, resting on his knees 
with his wide-splayed hands upon the ground. 

'Fook out!' cried Sam. 'Tie'll spring!' He stepped forward, brandishing 
his sword. 'Quick, Master!' he gasped. 'Go on! Go on! No time to lose. I'll 
deal with him. Go on!' 

Frodo looked at him as if at one now far away. 'Yes, I must go on,' he 
said. 'Farewell, Sam! This is the end at last. On Mount Doom doom shall 
fall. Farewell!' He turned and went on, walking slowly but erect up the 
climbing path. 

'Now!' said Sam. 'At last I can deal with you!' He leaped forward with 
drawn blade ready for battle. But Gollum did not spring. He fell flat upon 
the ground and whimpered. 

'Don't kill us,' he wept. 'Don't hurt us with nassty cruel steel! Fet 
us live, yes, live just a little longer. Fost lost! We're lost. And when 
Precious goes we'll die, yes, die into the dust.' He clawed up the ashes of 
the path with his long fleshless fingers. 'Dusst!' he hissed. 

Sam's hand wavered. His mind was hot with wrath and the memory of evil. 
It would be just to slay this treacherous, murderous creature, just and many 
times deserved; and also it seemed the only safe thing to do. But deep in 
his heart there was something that restrained him: he could not strike this 
thing lying in the dust, forlorn, ruinous, utterly wretched. He himself, 
though only for a little while, had borne the Ring, and now dimly he guessed 
the agony of Gollum's shrivelled mind and body, enslaved to that Ring, 




unable to find peace or relief ever in life again. But Sam had no words to 
express what he felt. 

'Oh, curse you, you stinking thing!' he said. ’Go away! Be off! I don't 
trust you, not as far as I could kick you; but be off. Or I shall hurt you, 
yes, with nasty cruel steel.' 

Gollum got up on all fours, and backed away for several paces, and then 
he turned, and as Sam aimed a kick at him he fled away down the path. Sam 
gave no more heed to him. He suddenly remembered his master. He looked 
up 

the path and could not see him. As fast as he could he trudged up the road. 

If he had looked back, he might have seen not far below Gollum turn again, 
and then with a wild light of madness glaring in his eyes come, swiftly but 
warily, creeping on behind, a slinking shadow among the stones. 

The path climbed on. Soon it bent again and. with a last eastward 
course passed in a cutting along the face of the cone and came to the dark 
door in the Mountain's side, the door of the Sammath Naur. Far away now 
rising towards the South the sun, piercing the smokes and haze, burned 
ominous, a dull bleared disc of red; but all Mordor lay about the Mountain 
like a dead land, silent, shadow-folded, waiting for some dreadful stroke. 

Sam came to the gaping mouth and peered in. It was dark and hot, and a 
deep rumbling shook the air. 'Frodo! Master!' he called. There was no 
answer. For a moment he stood, his heart beating with wild fears, and then 
he plunged in. A shadow followed him. 

At first he could see nothing. In his great need he drew out once more 
the phial of Galadriel, but it was pale and cold in his trembling hand and 
threw no light into that stifling dark. He was come to the heart of the 
realm of Sauron and the forges of his ancient might, greatest in 
Middle-earth; all other powers were here subdued. Fearfully he took a few 
uncertain steps in the dark, and then all at once there came a flash of red 
that leaped upward, and smote the high black roof. Then Sam saw that he was 
in a long cave or tunnel that bored into the Mountain's smoking cone. But 
only a short way ahead its floor and the walls on either side were cloven by 
a great fissure, out of which the red glare came, now leaping up, now dying 
down into darkness; and all the while far below there was a rumour and a 
trouble as of great engines throbbing and labouring. 

The light sprang up again, and there on the brink of the chasm, at the 
very Crack of Doom, stood Frodo, black against the glare, tense, erect, but 




still as if he had been turned to stone. 

’Master!' cried Sam. 

Then Frodo stirred and spoke with a clear voice, indeed with a voice 
clearer and more powerful than Sam had ever heard him use, and it rose above 
the throb and turmoil of Mount Doom, ringing in the roof and walls. 

'I have come,' he said. 'But I do not choose now to do what I came to 
do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!' And suddenly, as he set it 
on his finger, he vanished from Sam's sight. Sam gasped, but he had no 
chance to cry out, for at that moment many things happened. 

Something struck Sam violently in the back, his legs were knocked from 
under him and he was flung aside, striking his head against the stony floor, 
as a dark shape sprang over him. He lay still and for a moment all went 
black. 

And far away, as Frodo put on the Ring and claimed it for his own, even 
in Sammath Naur the very heart of his realm, the Power in Barad-dyr was 
shaken, and the Tower trembled from its foundations to its proud and bitter 
crown. The Dark Lord was suddenly aware of him, and his Eye piercing all 
shadows looked across the plain to the door that he had made; and the 
magnitude of his own folly was revealed to him in a blinding flash, and all 
the devices of his enemies were at last laid bare. Then his wrath blazed in 
consuming flame, but his fear rose like a vast black smoke to choke him. For 
he knew his deadly peril and the thread upon which his doom now hung. 

From all his policies and webs of fear and treachery, from all his 
stratagems and wars his mind shook free; and throughout his realm a tremor 
ran, his slaves quailed, and his armies halted, and his captains suddenly 
steerless, bereft of will, wavered and despaired. For they were forgotten. 

The whole mind and purpose of the Power that wielded them was now bent 
with 

overwhelming force upon the Mountain. At his summons, wheeling with a 
rending cry, in a last desperate race there flew, faster than the winds, the 
Nazgyl the Ring wraiths, and with a storm of wings they hurtled southwards to 
Mount Doom. 

Sam got up. He was dazed, and blood streaming from his head dripped in 
his eyes. He groped forward, and then he saw a strange and terrible thing. 
Gollum on the edge of the abyss was fighting like a mad thing with an unseen 
foe. To and fro he swayed, now so near the brink that almost he tumbled in, 
now dragging back, falling to the ground, rising, and falling again. And all 




the while he hissed but spoke no words. 

The fires below awoke in anger, the red light blazed, and all the 
cavern was filled with a great glare and heat. Suddenly Sam saw Gollum's 
long hands draw upwards to his mouth; his white fangs gleamed, and then 
snapped as they bit. Frodo gave a cry, and there he was, fallen upon his 
knees at the chasm's edge. But Gollum, dancing like a mad thing, held aloft 
the ring, a finger still thrust within its circle. It shone now as if verily 
it was wrought of living fire. 

'Precious, precious, precious!' Gollum cried. 'My Precious! O my 
Precious!' And with that, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his 
prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and 
then with a shriek he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail Precious, 
and he was gone. 

There was a roar and a great confusion of noise. Fires leaped up and 
licked the roof. The throbbing grew to a great tumult, and the Mountain 
shook. Sam ran to Frodo and picked him up and carried him. out to the door. 
And there upon the dark threshold of the Sammath Naur, high above the plains 
of Mordor, such wonder and terror came on him that he stood still forgetting 
all else, and gazed as one turned to stone. 

A brief vision he had of swirling cloud, and in the midst of it towers 
and battlements, tall as hills, founded upon a mighty mountain -throne above 
immeasurable pits; great courts and dungeons, eyeless prisons sheer as 
cliffs, and gaping gates of steel and adamant: and then all passed. Towers 
fell and mountains slid; walls crumbled and melted, crashing down; vast 
spires of smoke and spouting steams went billowing up, up, until they 
toppled like an overwhelming wave, and its wild crest curled and came 
foaming down upon the land. And then at last over the miles between there 
came a rumble, rising to a deafening crash and roar; the earth shook, the 
plain heaved and cracked, and Orodruin reeled. Fire belched from its riven 
summit. The skies burst into thunder seared with lightning. Down like 
lashing whips fell a torrent of black rain. And into the heart of the storm, 
with a cry that pierced all other sounds, tearing the clouds asunder, the 
Nazgyl came, shooting like flaming bolts, as caught in the fiery ruin of 
hill and sky they crackled, withered, and went out. 

'Well, this is the end, Sam Gamgee,' said a voice by his side. And 
there was Frodo, pale and worn, and yet himself again; and in his eyes there 
was peace now, neither strain of will, nor madness, nor any fear. His burden 




was taken away. There was the dear master of the sweet days in the Shire. 

'Master!' cried Sam. and fell upon his knees. In all that ruin of the 
world for the moment he felt only joy, great joy. The burden was gone. His 
master had been saved; he was himself again, he was free. And then Sam 
caught sight of the maimed and bleeding hand. 

'Your poor hand!' he said. 'And I have nothing to bind it with, or 
comfort it. I would have spared him a whole hand of mine rather. But he's 
gone now beyond recall, gone for ever.' 

'Yes,' said Frodo. 'But do you remember Gandalf s words: Even Gollum 
may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed 
the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let 
us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad 
you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.' 




Chapter 4 . The Field of Cormallen 



All about the hills the hosts of Mordor raged. The Captains of the West 
were foundering in a gathering sea. The sun gleamed red, and under the wings 
of the Nazgyl the shadows of death fell dark upon the earth. Aragorn stood 
beneath his banner, silent and stern, as one lost in thought of things long 
past or far away; but his eyes gleamed like stars that shine the brighter as 
the night deepens. Upon the hill-top stood Gandalf, and he was white and 
cold and no shadow fell on him. The onslaught of Mordor broke like a wave on 
the beleaguered hills, voices roaring like a tide amid the wreck and crash 
of arms. 

As if to his eyes some sudden vision had been given, Gandalf stirred; 
and he turned, looking back north where the skies were pale and clear. Then 
he lifted up his hands and cried in a loud voice ringing above the din: The 
Eagles are coming! And many voices answered crying: The Eagles are 
coming! 

The Eagles are coming! The hosts of Mordor looked up and wondered what 
this 

sign might mean. 

There came Gwaihir the Windlord, and Landroval his brother, greatest of 
all the Eagles of the North, mightiest of the descendants of old Thorondor, 
who built his eyries in the inaccessible peaks of the Encircling Mountains 
when Middle-earth was young. Behind them in long swift lines came all their 
vassals from the northern mountains, speeding on a gathering wind. Straight 
down upon the Nazgyl they bore, stooping suddenly out of the high airs, and 
the rush of their wide wings as they passed over was like a gale. 

But the Nazgyl turned and fled, and vanished into Mordor's shadows, 
hearing a sudden terrible call out of the Dark Tower; and even at that 
moment all the hosts of Mordor trembled, doubt clutched their hearts, their 
laughter failed, their hands shook and their limbs were loosed. The Power 
that drove them on and filled them with hate and fury was wavering, its will 
was removed from them; and now looking in the eyes of their enemies they 
saw 

a deadly light and were afraid. 




Then all the Captains of the West cried aloud, for their hearts were 
filled with a new hope in the midst of darkness. Out from the beleaguered 
hills knights of Gondor, Riders of Rohan, D®nedain of the North, 
close-serried companies, drove against their wavering foes, piercing the 
press with the thrust of bitter spears. But Gandalf lifted up his arms and 
called once more in a clear voice: 

’Stand, Men of the West! Stand and wait! This is the hour of doom.’ 

And even as he spoke the earth rocked beneath their feet. Then rising 
swiftly up, far above the Towers of the Black Gate, high above the 
mountains, a vast soaring darkness sprang into the sky, flickering with 
fire. The earth groaned and quaked. The Towers of the Teeth swayed, 
tottered, and fell down; the mighty rampart crumbled; the Black Gate was 
hurled in ruin; and from far away, now dim, now growing, now mounting to 
the 

clouds, there came a drumming rumble, a roar, a long echoing roll of ruinous 
noise. 

'The realm of Sauron is ended!' said Gandalf. 'The Ring -bearer has 
fulfilled his Quest.' And as the Captains gazed south to the Land of Mordor, 
it seemed to them that, black against the pall of cloud, there rose a huge 
shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, filling all the sky. 
Enormous it reared above the world, and stretched out towards them a vast 
threatening hand, terrible but impotent: for even as it leaned over them, a 
great wind took it, and it was all blown away, and passed; and then a hush 
fell. 

The Captains bowed their heads; and when they looked up again, behold! 
their enemies were flying and the power of Mordor was scattering like dust 
in the wind. As when death smites the swollen brooding thing that inhabits 
their crawling hill and holds them all in sway, ants will wander witless and 
purposeless and then feebly die, so the creatures of Sauron, ore or troll or 
beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless; and some slew 
themselves, or cast themselves in pits, or fled wailing back to hide in 
holes and dark lightless places far from hope. But the Men of Rhyn and of 
Harad, Easterling and Southron, saw the ruin of their war and the great 
majesty and glory of the Captains of the West. And those that were deepest 
and longest in evil servitude, hating the West, and yet were men proud and 
bold, in their turn now gathered themselves for a last stand of desperate 
battle. But the most part fled eastward as they could; and some cast their 




weapons down and sued for mercy. 

Then Gandalf, leaving all such matters of battle and command to Aragorn 
and the other lords, stood upon the hill-top and called; and down to him 
came the great eagle, Gwaihir the Windlord, and stood before him. 

'Twice you have borne me, Gwaihir my friend,' said Gandalf. 'Thrice 
shall pay for all, if you are willing. You will not find me a burden much 
greater than when you bore me from Zirak-zigil, where my old life burned 
away.' 

'I would bear you,' answered Gwaihir, 'whither you will, even were you 
made of stone.' 

'Then come, and let your brother go with us, and some other of your 
folk who is most swift! For we have need of speed greater than any wind, 
outmatching the wings of the Nazgyl.' 

'The North Wind blows, but we shall outfly it,' said Gwaihir. And he 
lifted up Gandalf and sped away south, and with him went Landroval, and 
Meneldor young and swift. And they passed over Udyn and Gorgoroth and 
saw 

all the land in ruin and tumult beneath them, and before them Mount Doom 
blazing, pouring out its fire. 

'I am glad that you are here with me,' said Frodo. 'Here at the end of 
all things, Sam.' 

'Yes, I am with you, Master,' said Sam, laying Frodo's wounded hand 
gently to his breast. 'And you're with me. And the journey's finished. But 
after coming all that way I don't want to give up yet. It's not like me, 
somehow, if you understand.' 

'Maybe not, Sam,' said Frodo; 'but it's like things are in the world. 

Hopes fail. An end comes. We have only a little time to wait now. We are 
lost in ruin and downfall, and there is no escape.' 

'Well, Master, we could at least go further from this dangerous place 
here, from this Crack of Doom, if that's its name. Now couldn't we? Come, 
Mr. Frodo, let's go down the path at any rate!' 

'Very well, Sam. If you wish to go, I'll come,' said Frodo; and they 
rose and went slowly down the winding road; and even as they passed towards 
the Mountain's quaking feet, a great smoke and steam belched from the 
Sammath Naur, and the side of the cone was riven open, and a huge fiery 
vomit rolled in slow thunderous cascade down the eastern mountain-side. 

Frodo and Sam could go no further. Their last strength of mind and body 




was swiftly ebbing. They had reached a low ashen hill piled at the 
Mountain’s foot; but from it there was no more escape. It was an island now, 
not long to endure, amid the torment of Orodruin. All about it the earth 
gaped, and from deep rifts and pits smoke and fumes leaped up. Behind them 
the Mountain was convulsed. Great rents opened in its side. Slow rivers of 
fire came down the long slopes towards them. Soon they would be engulfed. A 
rain of hot ash was falling. 

They stood now; and Sam still holding his master's hand caressed it. He 
sighed. ’What a tale we have been in, Mr. Frodo, haven’t we?’ he said. ’I 
wish I could hear it told! Do you think they’ll say: Now comes the story of 
Nine-fingered Frodo and the Ring of Doom? And then everyone will hush, like 
we did, when in Rivendell they told us the tale of Beren One -hand and the 
Great Jewel. I wish I could hear it! And I wonder how it will go on after 
our part.’ 

But even while he spoke so, to keep fear away until the very last, his 
eyes still strayed north, north into the eye of the wind, to where the sky 
far off was clear, as the cold blast, rising to a gale, drove back the 
darkness and the ruin of the clouds. 

And so it was that Gwaihir saw them with his keen far-seeing eyes, as 
down the wild wind he came, and daring the great peril of the skies he 
circled in the air: two small dark figures, forlorn, hand in hand upon a 
little hill, while the world shook under them, and gasped, and rivers of 
fire drew near. And even as he espied them and came swooping down, he 
saw 

them fall, worn out, or choked with fumes and heat, or stricken down by 
despair at last, hiding their eyes from death. 

Side by side they lay; and down swept Gwaihir, and down came Landroval 
and Meneldor the swift; and in a dream, not knowing what fate had befallen 
them, the wanderers were lifted up and borne far away out of the darkness 
and the fire. 

When Sam awoke, he found that he was lying on some soft bed, but over 
him gently swayed wide beechen boughs, and through their young leaves 
sunlight glimmered, green and gold. All the air was full of a sweet mingled 
scent. 

He remembered that smell: the fragrance of Ithilien. ’Bless me!’ he 
mused. ’How long have I been asleep?’ For the scent had borne him back to 




the day when he had lit his little fire under the sunny bank; and for a 
moment all else between was out of waking memory. He stretched and drew 
a 

deep breath. ’Why, what a dream I've had!’ he muttered. ’I am glad to wake!’ 
He sat up and then he saw that Frodo was lying beside him, and slept 
peacefully, one hand behind his head, and the other resting upon the 
coverlet. It was the right hand, and the third finger was missing. 

Full memory flooded back, and Sam cried aloud: ’It wasn't a dream! Then 
where are we?' 

And a voice spoke softly behind: 'In the land of Ithilien, and in the 
keeping of the King; and he awaits you.' With that Gandalf stood before him, 
robed in white, his beard now gleaming like pure snow in the twinkling of 
the leafy sunlight. 'Well, Master Samwise, how do you feel?' he said. 

But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between 
bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: 
'Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is 
everything sad going to come untrue? What's happened to the world?' 

'A great Shadow has departed,' said Gandalf, and then he laughed and 
the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he 
listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure 
sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears 
like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into 
tears. Then, as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun 
will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, 
and laughing he sprang from his bed. 

'How do I feel?' he cried. 'Well, I don't know how to say it. I feel, I 
feel' - he waved his arms in the air - 'I feel like spring after winter, and 
sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever 
heard!' He stopped and he turned towards his master. 'But how's Mr. Frodo?' 
he said. 'Isn't it a shame about his poor hand? But I hope he's all right 
otherwise. He's had a cruel time.' 

'Yes, I am all right otherwise,' said Frodo, sitting up and laughing in 
his turn. I fell asleep again waiting for you, Sam, you sleepyhead. I was 
awake early this morning, and now it must be nearly noon.' 

'Noon?' said Sam, trying to calculate. 'Noon of what day?' 

'The fourteenth of the New Year,' said Gandalf; 'or if you like, the 
eighth day of April in the Shire reckoning. ( But in Gondor the New Year will 




always now begin upon the twenty -fifth of March when Sauron fell, and when 
you were brought out of the fire to the King. He has tended you, and now he 
awaits you. You shall eat and drink with him. When you are ready I will lead 
you to him.’ 

The King?' said Sam. ’What king, and who is he?' 

The King of Gondor and Lord of the Western Lands,' said Gandalf ’and 
he has taken back all his ancient realm. He will ride soon to his crowning, 
but he waits for you.' 

’What shall we wear?' said Sam; for all he could see was the old and 
tattered clothes that they had journeyed in, lying folded on the ground 
beside their beds. 

'The clothes that you wore on your way to Mordor,' said Gandalf. 'Even 
the ore-rags that you bore in the black land; Frodo, shall be preserved. No 
silks and linens, nor any armour or heraldry could be more honourable. But 
later I will find some other clothes, perhaps.' 

Then he held out his hands to them, and they saw that one shone with 
light. 'What have you got there?' Frodo cried. 'Can it be - ?' 

'Yes, I have brought your two treasures. They were found on Sam when 
you were rescued. The Lady Galadriel's gifts: your glass, Frodo, and your 
box, Sam. You will be glad to have these safe again.' 

When they were washed and clad, and had eaten a light meal, the Hobbits 
followed Gandalf. They stepped out of the beech-grove in which they had 
lain, and passed on to a long green lawn, glowing in sunshine, bordered by 
stately dark -leaved trees laden with scarlet blossom. Behind them they could 
hear the sound of falling water, and a stream ran down before them between 
flowering banks, until it came to a greenwood at the lawn's foot and passed 
then on under an archway of trees, through which they saw the shimmer of 
water far away. 

As they came to the opening in the wood, they were surprised to see 
knights in bright mail and tall guards in silver and black standing there, 
who greeted them with honour and bowed before them. And then one blew a 
long 

trumpet, and they went on through the aisle of trees beside the singing 
stream. So they came to a wide green land, and beyond it was a broad river 
in a silver haze, out of which rose a long wooded isle, and many ships lay 
by its shores. But on the field where they now stood a great host was drawn 
up, in ranks and companies glittering in the sun. And as the Hobbits 




approached swords were unsheathed, and spears were shaken, and horns and 
trumpets sang, and men cried with many voices and in many tongues: 

'Long live the Halflings ! Praise them with great praise! 

Cuio i Pheriain anann! Aglar'ni Pheriannath! 

Praise them with great praise, Frodo and Samwise! 

Daur a Berhael, Conin en Annyn! Eglerio! 

Praise them! 

Eglerio! 

A laita te, laita te! Andave laituvalmet! 

Praise them! 

Cormacolindor, a laita tbrienna! 

Praise them! The Ring-bearers, praise them with great praise!' 

And so the red blood blushing in their faces and their eyes shining 
with wonder, Frodo and Sam went forward and saw that amidst the 
clamorous 

host were set three high-seats built of green turves. Behind the seat upon 
the right floated, white on green, a great horse running free; upon the left 
was a banner, silver upon blue, a ship swan-prowed faring on the sea; but 
behind the highest throne in the midst of all a great standard was spread in 
the breeze, and there a white tree flowered upon a sable field beneath a 
shining crown and seven glittering stars. On the throne sat a mail-clad man, 
a great sword was laid across his knees, but he wore no helm. As they drew 
near he rose. And then they knew him, changed as he was, so high and glad of 
face, kingly, lord of Men, dark-haired with eyes of grey. 

Frodo ran to meet him, and Sam followed close behind. 'Well, if that 
isn’t the crown of all!' he said. 'Strider, or I'm still asleep!' 

'Yes, Sam, Strider,' said Aragorn. 'It is a long way, is it not, from 
Bree, where you did not like the look of me? A long way for us all but yours 
has been the darkest road.' 

And then to Sam's surprise and utter confusion he bowed his knee before 
them; and taking them by the hand, Frodo upon his right and Sam upon his 
left, he led them to the throne, and setting them upon it, he turned to the 
men and captains who stood by and spoke, so that his voice rang over all the 
host, crying: 

'Praise them with great praise!' 

And when the glad shout had swelled up and died away again, to Sam's 
final and complete satisfaction and pure joy, a minstrel of Gondor stood 




forth, and knelt, and begged leave to sing. And behold! he said: 

'Lo! lords and knights and men of valour unashamed, kings and princes, 
and fair people of Gondor, and Riders of Rohan, and ye sons of Elrond, and 
D®nedain of the North, and Elf and Dwarf, and greathearts of the Shire, and 
all free folk of the West, now listen to my lay. For I will sing to you of 
Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom.' 

And when Sam heard that he laughed aloud for sheer delight, and he 
stood up and cried: 'O great glory and splendour! And all my wishes have 
come true!' And then he wept. 

And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment 
and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all 
men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the 
speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, 
overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to 
regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of 
blessedness. 

And at the last, as the Sun fell from the noon and the shadows of the 
trees lengthened, he ended. ’Praise them with great praise!' he said and 
knelt. And then Aragorn stood up, and all the host arose, and they passed to 
pavilions made ready, to eat and drink and make merry while the day lasted. 

Frodo and Sam were led apart and brought to a tent, and there their old 
raiment was taken off, but folded and set aside with honour; and clean linen 
was given to them. Then Gandalf came and in his arms, to the wonder of 
Frodo, he bore the sword and the elven-cloak and the mithril-coat that had 
been taken from him in Mordor. For Sam he brought a coat of gilded mail, and 
his elven-cloak all healed of the soils and hurts that it had suffered; and 
then he laid before them two swords. 

'I do not wish for any sword,’ said Frodo. 

'Tonight at least you should wear one,' said Gandalf. 

Then Frodo took the small sword that had belonged to Sam, and had been 
laid at his side in Cirith Ungol. 'Sting I gave to you Sam,' he said. 

'No, master! Mr. Bilbo gave it to you, and it goes with his silver 
coat; he would not wish anyone else to wear it now.' 

Frodo gave way; and Gandalf, as if he were their esquire, knelt and 
girt the sword-belts about them, and then rising he set circlets of silver 
upon their heads. And when they were arrayed they went to the great feast; 
and they sat at the King's table with Gandalf, and King Jomer of Rohan, and 




the Prince Imrahil and all the chief captains; and there also were Gimli and 
Legolas. 

But when, after the Standing Silence, wine was brought there came in 
two esquires to serve the kings; or so they seemed to be: one was clad in 
the silver and sable of the Guards of Minas Tirith, and the other in white 
and green. But Sam wondered what such young boys were doing in an army 
of 

mighty men. Then suddenly as they drew near and he could see them plainly, 
he exclaimed: 

'Why, look Mr. Frodo! Look here! Well, if it isn't Pippin. Mr. Peregrin 
Took I should say, and Mr. Merry! How they have grown! Bless me! But I 
can 

see there's more tales to tell than ours.' 

'There are indeed,' said Pippin turning towards him. 'And we'll begin 
telling them, as soon as this feast is ended. In the meantime you can try 
Gandalf. He's not so close as he used to be, though he laughs now more than 
he talks. For the present Merry and I are busy. We are knights of the City 
and of the Mark, as I hope you observe.' 

At last the glad day ended; and when the Sun was gone and the round 
Moon rode slowly above the mists of Anduin and flickered through the 
fluttering leaves, Frodo and Sam sat under the whispering trees amid the 
fragrance of fair Ithilien; and they talked deep into the night with Merry 
and Pippin and Gandalf, and after a while Legolas and Gimli joined them. 
There Frodo and Sam learned much of all that had happened to the Company 
after their fellowship was broken on the evil day at Parth Galen by Rauros 
Falls; and still there was always more to ask and more to tell. 

Ores, and talking trees, and leagues of grass, and galloping riders, 
and glittering caves, and white towers and golden halls, and battles, and 
tall ships sailing, all these passed before Sam's mind until he felt 
bewildered. But amidst all these wonders he returned always to his 
astonishment at the size of Merry and Pippin; and he made them stand back to 
back with Frodo and himself. He scratched his head. 'Can't understand it at 
your age!' he said. 'But there it is: you're three inches taller than you 
ought to he, or I'm a dwarf.' 

'That you certainly are not,' said Gimli. 'But what did I say? Mortals 
cannot go drinking ent-draughts and expect no more to come of them than of a 
pot of beer.' 




’Ent-draughts?' said Sam. 'There you go about Ents again; but what they 
are beats me. Why, it will take weeks before we get all these things sized 
up!' 

'Weeks indeed,' said Pippin. 'And then Frodo will have to be locked up 
in a tower in Minas Tirith and write it all down. Otherwise he will forget 
half of it, and poor old Bilbo will be dreadfully disappointed.' 

At length Gandalf rose. 'The hands of the King are hands of healing, 
dear friends,' he said. 'But you went to the very brink of death ere he 
recalled you, putting forth all his power, and sent you into the sweet 
forgetfulness of sleep. And though you have indeed slept long and blessedly, 
still it is now time to sleep again.' 

And not only Sam and Frodo here, said Gimli, but you too, Pippin. I 
love you, if only because of the pains you have cost me, which I shall never 
forget. Nor shall I forget finding you on the hill of the last battle. But 
for Gimli the Dwarf you would have been lost then. But at least I know now 
the look of a hobbit's foot, though it be all that can be seen under a heap 
of bodies. And when I heaved that great carcase off you, I made sure you 
were dead. I could have, torn out my beard. And it is only a day yet since 
you were first up and abroad again. To bed now you go. And so shall I.' 

'And I,' said Legolas, 'shall walk in the woods of this fair land, 
which is rest enough. In days to come, if my Elven-lord allows, some of our 
folk shall remove hither; and when we come it shall be blessed, for a while. 
For a while: a month, a life, a hundred years of Men. But Anduin is near, 
and Anduin leads down to the Sea. To the Sea! 

To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying, 

The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying. 

West, west away, the round sun is falling. 

Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling. 

The voices of my people that have gone before me? 

I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me; 

For our days are ending and our years failing. 

I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing. 

Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling, 

Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling, 

In Eressla, in Elvenhome that no man can discover, 

Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!' 

And so singing Fegolas went away down the hill. 




Then the others also departed, and Frodo and Sam went to their beds and 
slept. And in the morning they rose again in hope and peace; and they spent 
many days in Ithilien. For the Field of Cormallen, where the host was now 
encamped was near to Henneth Annyn, and the stream that flowed from its 
falls could be heard in the night as it rushed down through its rocky gate, 
and passed through the flowery meads into the tides of Anduin by the Isle of 
Cair Andros. The hobbits wandered here and there visiting again the places 
that they had passed before; and Sam hoped always in some shadow of the 
woods or secret glade to catch, maybe, a glimpse of the great Oliphaunt. And 
when he learned that at the siege of Gondor there had been a great number of 
these beasts but that they were all destroyed, he thought it a sad loss. 

'Well, one can't be everywhere at once, I suppose,' he said. 'But I 
missed a lot, seemingly.' 

In the meanwhile the host made ready for the return to Minas Tirith. 

The weary rested and the hurt were healed. For some had laboured and fought 
much with the remnants of the Easterlings and Southrons, until all were 
subdued. And, latest of all, those returned who had passed into Mordor and 
destroyed the fortresses in the north of the land. 

But at the last when the month of May was drawing near the Captains of 
the West set out again; and they went aboard ship with all their men, and 
they sailed from Cair Andros down Anduin to Osgiliath; and there they 
remained for one day; and the day after they came to the green fields of the 
Pelennor and saw again the white towers under tall Mindolluin, the City of 
the Men of Gondor, last memory of Westernesse, that had passed through the 
darkness and fire to a new day. 

And there in the midst of the fields they set up their pavilions and 
awaited the morning; for it was the Eve of May, and the King would enter his 
gates with the rising of the Sun. 




Chapter 5 . The Steward and the King 



Over the city of Gondor doubt and great dread had hung. Fair weather 
and clear sun had seemed but a mockery to men whose days held little hope, 
and who looked each morning for news of doom. Their lord was dead and 
burned, dead lay the King of Rohan in their citadel, and the new king that 
had come to them in the night was gone again to a war with powers too dark 
and terrible for any might or valour to conquer. And no news came. After the 
host left Morgul Vale and took the northward road beneath the shadow of the 
mountains no messenger had returned nor any rumour of what was passing in 
the brooding East. 

When the Captains were but two days gone, the Lady Jowyn bade the 
women 

who tended her to bring her raiment, and she would not be gainsaid, but 
rose; and when they had clothed her and set her arm in a sling of linen, she 
went to the Warden of the Houses of Healing. 

’Sir,’ she said, 'I am in great unrest, and I cannot lie longer in 
sloth.' 

'Lady,' he answered, ’you are not yet healed, and I was commanded to 
tend you with especial care. You should not have risen from your bed for 
seven days yet, or so I was bidden. I beg you to go back.' 

'I am healed,' she said, 'healed at least in body, save my left arm 
only, and that is at ease. But I shall sicken anew, if there is naught that 
I can do. Are there no tidings of war? The women can tell me nothing.' 

'There are no tidings,' said the Warden, 'save that the Lords have 
ridden to Morgul Vale; and men say that the new captain out of the North is 
their chief. A great lord is that, and a healer; and it is a thing passing 
strange to me that the healing hand should also wield the sword. It is not 
thus in Gondor now, though once it was so, if old tales be true. But for 
long years we healers have only sought to patch the rents made by the men of 
swords. Though we should still have enough to do without them: the world is 
full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them.' 

It needs but one foe to breed a war, not two, Master Warden, answered 
Jowyn. 'And those who have not swords can still die upon them. Would you 
have the folk of Gondor gather you herbs only, when the Dark Lord gathers 




armies? And it is not always good to be healed in body. Nor is it always 
evil to die in battle, even in bitter pain. Were I permitted, in this dark 
hour I would choose the latter.' 

The Warden looked at her. Tall she stood there, her eyes bright in her 
white face, her hand clenched as she turned and gazed out of his window that 
opened to the East. He sighed and shook his head. After a pause she turned 
to him again. 

'Is there no deed to do?' she said. 'Who commands in this City?' 

'I do not rightly know,' he answered. 'Such things are not my care. 

There is a marshal over the Riders of Rohan; and the Lord H®rin, I am told, 
commands the men of Gondor. But the Lord Laramir is by right the Steward of 
the City.' 

'Where can I find him?' 

'In this house, lady. He was sorely hurt, but is now set again on the 
way to health. But I do not know—' 

'Will you not bring me to him? Then you will know.' 

The Lord Laramir was walking alone in the garden of the Houses of 
Healing, and the sunlight warmed him, and he felt life run new in his veins; 
but his heart was heavy, and he looked out over the walls eastward. And 
coming, the Warden spoke his name, and he turned and saw the Lady Jowyn 
of 

Rohan; and he was moved with pity, for he saw that she was hurt, and his 
clear sight perceived her sorrow and unrest. 

'My lord,' said the Warden, 'here is the Lady Jowyn of Rohan. She rode 
with the king and was sorely hurt, and dwells now in my keeping. But she is 
not content, and she wishes to speak to the Steward of the City.' 

'Do not misunderstand him, lord,' said Jowyn. 'It is not lack of care 
that grieves me. No houses could be fairer, for those who desire to be 
healed. But I cannot lie in sloth, idle, caged. I looked for death in 
battle. But I have not died, and battle still goes on.' 

At a sign from Laramir, the Warden bowed and departed. 'What would you 
have me do, lady?' said Laramir. 'I also am a prisoner of the healers.' He 
looked at her, and being a man whom pity deeply stirred, it seemed to him 
that her loveliness amid her grief would pierce his heart. And she looked at 
him and saw the grave tenderness in his eyes, and yet knew, for she was bred 
among men of war, that here was one whom no Rider of the Mark would 
outmatch 




in battle. 

’What do you wish?' he said again. 'If it lies in my power, I will do 
it.' 

'I would have you command this Warden, and bid him let me go,' she 
said; but though her words were still proud, her heart faltered, and for the 
first time she doubted herself. She guessed that this tall man, both stern 
and gentle, might think her merely wayward, like a child that has not the 
firmness of mind to go on with a dull task to the end. 

'I myself am in the Warden's keeping,' answered Faramir. 'Nor have I 
yet taken up my authority in the City. But had I done so, I should still 
listen to his counsel, and should not cross his will in matters of his 
craft, unless in some great need.' 

'But I do not desire healing,' she said. 'I wish to ride to war like my 
brother Jomer, or better like Thjoden the king, for he died and has both 
honour and peace.' 

'It is too late, lady, to follow the Captains, even if you had the 
strength,' said Faramir. 'But death in battle may come to us all yet, 
willing or unwilling. You will be better prepared to face it in your own 
manner, if while there is still time you do as the Healer commanded. You and 
I, we must endure with patience the hours of waiting.' 

She did not answer, but as he looked at her it seemed to him that 
something in her softened, as though a bitter frost were yielding at the 
first faint presage of Spring. A tear sprang in her eye and fell down her 
cheek, like a glistening rain-drop. Her proud head drooped a little. Then 
quietly, more as if speaking to herself than to him: 'But the healers would 
have me lie abed seven days yet,' she said. 'And my window does not look 
eastward.' Her voice was now that of a maiden young and sad. 

Faramir smiled, though his heart was filled with pity. 'Your window 
does not look eastward?' he said. 'That can be amended. In this I will 
command the Warden. If you will stay in this house in our care, lady, and 
take your rest, then you shall walk in this garden in the sun, as you will; 
and you shall look east, whither all our hopes have gone. And here you will 
find me, walking and waiting, and also looking east. It would ease my care, 
if you would speak to me, or walk at whiles with me.' 

Then she raised her head and looked him in the eyes again; and a colour 
came in her pale face. 'How should I ease your care, my lord?' she said. 
'And I do not desire the speech of living men.' 




'Would you have my plain answer?' he said. 

'I would.' 

'Then, Jowyn of Rohan, I say to you that you are beautiful. In the 
valleys of our hills there are flowers fair and bright, and maidens fairer 
still; but neither flower nor lady have I seen till now in Gondor so lovely, 
and so sorrowful. It may be that only a few days are left ere darkness falls 
upon our world, and when it comes I hope to face it steadily; but it would 
ease my heart, if while the Sun yet shines, I could see you still. For you 
and I have both passed under the wings of the Shadow, and the same hand drew 
us back.' 

'Alas, not me, lord!' she said. 'Shadow lies on me still. Look not to 
me for healing! I am a shieldmaiden and my hand is ungentle. But I thank you 
for this at least, that I need not keep to my chamber. I will walk abroad by 
the grace of the Steward of the City.' And she did him a courtesy and walked 
back to the house. But Faramir for a long while walked alone in the garden, 
and his glance now strayed rather to the house than to the eastward walls. 

When he returned to his chamber he called for the Warden, and heard all 
that he could tell of the Lady of Rohan. 

'But I doubt not, lord,' said the Warden, 'that you would learn more 
from the Halfling that is with us; for he was in the riding of the king, and 
with the Lady at the end, they say.' 

And so Merry was sent to Faramir, and while that day lasted they talked 
long together, and Faramir learned much, more even than Merry put into 
words; and he thought that he understood now something of the grief and 
unrest of Jowyn of Rohan. And in the fair evening Faramir and Merry walked 
in the garden, but she did not come. 

But in the morning, as Faramir came from the Houses, he saw her, as she 
stood upon the walls; and she was clad all in white, and gleamed in the sun. 

And he called to her, and she came down, and they walked on the grass or sat 
under a green tree together, now in silence, now in speech. And each day 
after they did likewise. And the Warden looking from his window was glad in 
heart, for he was a healer, and his care was lightened; and certain it was 
that, heavy as was the dread and foreboding of those days upon the hearts of 
men, still these two of his charges prospered and grew daily in strength. 

And so the fifth day came since the Lady Jowyn went first to Faramir; 
and they stood now together once more upon the walls of the City and looked 
out. No tidings had yet come, and all hearts were darkened. The weather, 




too, was bright no longer. It was cold. A wind that had sprung up in the 
night was blowing now keenly from the North, and it was rising; but the 
lands about looked grey and drear. 

They were clad in warm raiment and heavy cloaks, and over all the Lady 
Jowyn wore a great blue mantle of the colour of deep summer -night, and it 
was set with silver stars about hem and throat. Faramir had sent for this 
robe and had wrapped it about her; and he thought that she looked fair and 
queenly indeed as she stood there at his side. The mantle was wrought for 
his mother, Finduilas of Amroth, who died untimely, and was to him but a 
memory of loveliness in far days and of his first grief; and her robe seemed 
to him raiment fitting for the beauty and sadness of Jowyn. 

But she now shivered beneath the starry mantle, and she looked 
northward, above the grey hither lands, into the eye of the cold wind where 
far away the sky was hard and clear. 

’What do you look for, Jowyn?' said Faramir. 

'Does not the Black Gate lie yonder?' said she. 'And must he not now be 
come thither? It is seven days since he rode away.' 

'Seven days,' said Faramir. 'But think not ill of me, if I say to you: 
they have brought me both a joy and a pain that I never thought to know. Joy 
to see you; but pain, because now the fear and doubt of this evil time are 
grown dark indeed. Jowyn, I would not have this world end now, or lose so 
soon what I have found.' 

'Lose what you have found, lord?' she answered; but she looked at him 
gravely and her eyes were kind. 'I know not what in these days you have 
found that you could lose. But come, my friend, let us not speak of it! Let 
us not speak at all! I stand upon some dreadful brink, and it is utterly 
dark in the abyss before my feet, but whether there is any light behind me I 
cannot tell. For I cannot turn yet. I wait for some stroke of doom.' 

'Yes, we wait for the stroke of doom,' said Faramir. And they said no 
more; and it seemed to them as they stood upon the wall that the wind died, 
and the light failed, and the Sun was bleared, and all sounds in the City or 
in the lands about were hushed: neither wind, nor voice, nor bird-call, nor 
rustle of leaf, nor their own breath could be heard; the very beating of 
their hearts was stilled. Time halted. 

And as they stood so, their hands met and clasped, though they did not 
know it. And still they waited for they knew not what. Then presently it 
seemed to them that above the ridges of the distant mountains another vast 




mountain of darkness rose, towering up like a wave that should engulf the 
world, and about it lightnings flickered; and then a tremor ran through the 
earth, and they felt the walls of the City quiver. A sound like a sigh went 
up from all the lands about them; and their hearts beat suddenly again. 

'It reminds me of N®menor,' said Faramir, and wondered to hear himself 
speak. 

'Of N®menor?' said Jowyn. 

'Yes,' said Faramir, 'of the land of Westernesse that foundered and of 
the great dark wave climbing over the green lands and above the hills, and 
coming on, darkness unescapable. I often dream of it.' 

'Then you think that the Darkness is coming?' said Jowyn. 'Darkness 
Unescapable?' And suddenly she drew close to him. 

'No,' said Faramir, looking into her face. 'It was but a picture in the 
mind. I do not know what is happening. The reason of my waking mind tells 
me 

that great evil has befallen and we stand at the end of days. But my heart 
says nay; and all my limbs are light, and a hope and joy are come to me that 
no reason can deny. Jowyn, Jowyn, White Lady of Rohan, in this hour I do not 
believe that any darkness will endure!' And he stooped and kissed her brow. 

And so they stood on the walls of the City of Gondor, and a great wind 
rose and blew, and their hair, raven and golden, streamed out mingling in 
the air. And the Shadow departed, and the Sun was unveiled, and light leaped 
forth; and the waters of Anduin shone like silver, and in all the houses of 
the City men sang for the joy that welled up in their hearts from what 
source they could not tell. 

And before the Sun had fallen far from the noon out of the East there 
came a great Eagle flying, and he bore tidings beyond hope from the Lords of 
the West, crying: 

Sing now, ye people of the Tower of Anor, 
for the Realm of Sauron is ended for ever, 
and the Dark Tower is thrown down. 

Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard, 

for your watch hath not been in vain, 

and the Black Gate is broken, 

and your King hath passed through, 

and he is victorious. 




Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West, 
for your King shall come again, 
and he shall dwell among you 
all the days of your life. 

And the Tree that was withered shall be renewed, 
and he shall plant it in the high places, 
and the City shall be blessed. 

Sing all ye people! 

And the people sang in all the ways of the City. 

The days that followed were golden, and Spring and Summer joined and 
made revel together in the fields of Gondor. And tidings now came by swift 
riders from Cair Andros of all that was done, and the City made ready for 
the coming of the King. Merry was summoned and rode away with the wains 
that 

took store of goods to Osgiliath and thence by ship to Cair Andros; but 
Faramir did not go, for now being healed he took upon him his authority and 
the Stewardship, although it was only for a little while, and his duty was 
to prepare for one who should replace him. 

And Jowyn did not go, though her brother sent word begging her to come 
to the field of Cormallen. And Faramir wondered at this, but he saw her 
seldom, being busy with many matters; and she dwelt still in the Flouses of 
Flealing and walked alone in the garden, and her face grew pale again, and it 
seemed that in all the City she only was ailing and sorrowful. And the 
Warden of the Houses was troubled, and he spoke to Faramir. 

Then Faramir came and sought her, and once more they stood on the walls 
together; and he said to her: 'Jowyn, why do you tarry here, and do not go 
to the rejoicing in Cormallen beyond Cair Andros, where your brother awaits 
you?' 

And she said: 'Do you not know?' 

But he answered: 'Two reasons there may be, but which is true, 1 do not 
know.' 

And she said: 'I do not wish to play at riddles. Speak plainer!' 

'Then if you will have it so, lady,' he said: 'you do not go, because 
only your brother called for you, and to look on the Lord Aragorn, Elendil's 




heir, in his triumph would now bring you no joy. Or because I do not go, and 
you desire still to be near me. And maybe for both these reasons, and you 
yourself cannot choose between them. Jowyn, do you not love me, or will you 
not?' 

'I wished to be loved by another,' she answered. 'But I desire no man's 
pity.' 

'That I know,' he said. 'You desired to have the love of the Lord 
Aragorn. Because he was high and puissant, and you wished to have renown 
and 

glory and to be lifted far above the mean things that crawl on the earth. 

And as a great captain may to a young soldier he seemed to you admirable. 
For so he is, a lord among men, the greatest that now is. But when he gave 
you only understanding and pity, then you desired to have nothing, unless a 
brave death in battle. Look at me, Jowyn!' 

And Jowyn looked at Faramir long and steadily; and Faramir said: 'Do 
not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart, Jowyn! But I do not offer 
you my pity. For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won 
renown that shall not be forgotten; and you are a lady beautiful, I deem, 
beyond even the words of the Elven-tongue to tell. And I love you. Once I 
pitied your sorrow. But now, were you sorrowless, without fear or any lack, 
were you the blissful Queen of Gondor, still I would love you. Jowyn, do you 
not love me?' 

Then the heart of Jowyn changed, or else at last she understood it. And 
suddenly her winter passed, and the sun shone on her. 

I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun, she said; and behold the 
Shadow has departed! I will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the 
great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, 
and love all things that grow and are not barren.' And again she looked at 
Faramir. 'No longer do I desire to be a queen,' she said. 

Then Faramir laughed merrily. 'That is well,' he said; 'for I am not a 
king. Yet I will wed with the White Lady of Rohan, if it be her will. And if 
she will, then let us cross the River and in happier days let us dwell in 
fair Ithilien and there make a garden. All things will grow with joy there, 
if the White Lady comes.' 

'Then must I leave my own people, man of Gondor?' she said. 'And would 
you have your proud folk say of you: (There goes a lord who tamed a wild 
shieldmaiden of the North! Was there no woman of the race ofN®menor to 




choose?(' 

'I would,' said Faramir. And he took her in his arms and kissed her 
under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls 
in the sight of many. And many indeed saw them and the light that shone 
about them as they came down from the walls and went hand in hand to the 
Houses of Healing. 

And to the Warden of the Houses Faramir said: 'Here is the Lady Jowyn 
of Rohan, and now she is healed.' 

And the Warden said: 'Then I release her from my charge and bid her 
farewell, and may she suffer never hurt nor sickness again. I commend her to 
the care of the Steward of the City, until her brother returns.' 

But Jowyn said: 'Yet now that I have leave to depart, I would remain. 

For this House has become to me of all dwellings the most blessed.' And she 
remained there until King Jomer came. 

All things were now made ready in the City; and there was great 
concourse of people, for the tidings had gone out into all parts of Gondor, 
from Min-Rimmon even to Pinnath Gelin and the far coasts of the sea; and all 
that could come to the City made haste to come. And the City was filled 
again with women and fair children that returned to their homes laden with 
flowers; and from Dol Amroth came the harpers that harped most skilfully in 
all the land; and there were players upon viols and upon flutes and upon 
horns of silver, and clear-voiced singers from the vales of Lebennin. 

At last an evening came when from the walls the pavilions could be seen 
upon the field, and all night lights were burning as men watched for the 
dawn. And when the sun rose in the clear morning above the mountains in the 
East, upon which shadows lay no more, then all the bells rang, and all the 
banners broke and flowed in the wind; and upon the White Tower of the 
citadel the standard of the Stewards, bright argent like snow in the sun, 
bearing no charge nor device, was raised over Gondor for the last time. 

Now the Captains of the West led their host towards the City, and folk 
saw them advance in line upon line, flashing and glinting in the sunrise and 
rippling like silver. And so they came before the Gateway and halted a 
furlong from the walls. As yet no gates had been set up again, but a barrier 
was laid across the entrance to the City, and there stood men at arms in 
silver and black with long swords drawn. Before the barrier stood Faramir 
the Steward, and H®rin Warden of the Keys, and other captains of Gondor, and 
the Lady Jowyn of Rohan with Elfhelm the Marshal and many knights of the 




Mark; and upon either side of the Gate was a great press of fair people in 
raiment of many colours and garlands of flowers. 

So now there was a wide space before the walls of Minas Tirith, and it 
was hemmed in upon all sides by the knights and the soldiers of Gondor and 
of Rohan, and by the people of the City and of all parts of the land. A hush 
fell upon all as out from the host stepped the D®nedain in silver and grey; 
and before them came walking slow the Lord Aragorn. He was clad in black 
mail girt with silver, and he wore a long mantle of pure white clasped at 
the throat with a great jewel of green that shone from afar; but his head 
was bare save for a star upon his forehead bound by a slender fillet of 
silver. With him were Jomer of Rohan, and the Prince Imrahil, and Gandalf 
robed all in white, and four small figures that many men marvelled to see. 

'Nay, cousin! they are not boys,' said Ioreth to her kinswoman from 
Imloth Melui, who stood beside her. 'Those are Periain, out of the far 
country of the Halflings, where they are princes of great fame, it is said. 

I should know, for I had one to tend in the Houses. They are small, but they 
are valiant. Why, cousin, one of them went with only his esquire into the 
Black Country and fought with the Dark Lord all by himself, and set fire to 
his Tower, if you can believe it. At least that is the tale in the City. 

That will be the one that walks with our Elf stone. They are dear friends, I 
hear. Now he is a marvel, the Lord Elfstone: not too soft in his speech, 
mind you, but he has a golden heart, as the saying is; and he has the 
healing hands. (The hands of the king are the hands of a healer(, I said; 
and that was how it was all discovered. And Mithrandir, he said to me: 
(Ioreth, men will long remember your words(, and—' 

But Ioreth was not permitted to continue the instruction of her 
kinswoman from the country, for a single trumpet rang, and a dead silence 
followed. Then forth from the Gate went Faramir with H®rin of the Keys, and 
no others, save that behind them walked four men in the high helms and 
armour of the Citadel, and they bore a great casket of black lebethron bound 
with silver. 

Faramir met Aragorn in the midst of those there assembled, and he 
knelt, and said: 'The last Steward of Gondor begs leave to surrender his 
office.' And he held out a white rod; but Aragorn took the rod and gave it 
back, saying: 'That office is not ended, and it shall be thine and thy 
heirs' as long as my line shall last. Do now thy office!' 

Then Faramir stood up and spoke in a clear voice: 'Men of Gondor hear 




now the Steward of this Realm! Behold! one has come to claim the kingship 
again at last. Here is Aragorn son of Arathorn, chieftain of the D®nedain of 
Arnor, Captain of the Host of the West, bearer of the Star of the North, 
wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, whose hands bring 
healing, the Elf stone, Elessar of the line of Valandil, Isildur's son, 

Elendil's son of N®menor. Shall he be king and enter into the City and dwell 
there?' 

And all the host and all the people cried yea with one voice. 

And Ioreth said to her kinswoman: 'This is just a ceremony such as we 
have in the City, cousin; for he has already entered, as I was telling you; 
and he said to me—' And then again she was obliged to silence, for Faramir 
spoke again. 

'Men of Gondor, the loremasters tell that it was the custom of old that 
the king should receive the crown from his father ere he died; or if that 
might not be, that he should go alone and take it from the hands of his 
father in the tomb where he was laid. But since things must now be done 
otherwise, using the authority of the Steward, I have today brought hither 
from Rath Dnnen the crown of Edrnur the last king, whose days passed in the 
time of our longfathers of old.' 

Then the guards stepped forward, and Faramir opened the casket, and he 
held up an ancient crown. It was shaped like the helms of the Guards of the 
Citadel, save that it was loftier, and it was all white, and the wings at 
either side were wrought of pearl and silver in the likeness of the wings of 
a sea-bird, for it was the emblem of kings who came over the Sea; and seven 
gems of adamant were set in the circlet, and upon its summit was set a 
single jewel the light of which went up like a flame. 

Then Aragorn took the crown and held it up and said: 

Et Edrello Endorenna ut®lien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn' 
Ambar-metta! 

And those were the words that Elendil spoke when he came up out of the 
Sea on the wings of the wind: 'Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am 
come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the 
world.' 

Then to the wonder of many Aragorn did not put the crown upon his head, 
but gave it back to Faramir, and said: 'By the labour and valour of many I 
have come into my inheritance. In token of this I would have the Ring -bearer 
bring the crown to me, and let Mithrandir set it upon my head, if he will; 




for he has been the mover of all that has been accomplished, and this is his 
victory.' 

Then Frodo came forward and took the crown from Faramir and bore it to 
Gandalf; and Aragorn knelt, and Gandalf set the White Crown upon his head, 
and said: 

’Now come the days of the King, and may they be blessed while the 
thrones of the Valar endure!’ 

But when Aragorn arose all that beheld him gazed in silence, for it 
seemed to them that he was revealed to them now for the first time. Tall as 
the sea-kings of old, he stood above all that were near; ancient of days he 
seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat upon his brow, and 
strength and healing were in his hands, and a light was about him. And then 
Faramir cried: 

’Behold the King!’ 

And in that moment all the trumpets were blown, and the King Elessar 
went forth and came to the barrier, and H®rin of the Keys thrust it back; 
and amid the music of harp and of viol and of flute and the singing of clear 
voices the King passed through the flower -laden streets, and came to the 
Citadel, and entered in; and the banner of the Tree and the Stars was 
unfurled upon the topmost tower, and the reign of King Elessar began, of 
which many songs have told. 

In his time the City was made more fair than it had ever been, even in 
the days of its first glory; and it was filled with trees and with 
fountains, and its gates were wrought of mithril and steel, and its streets 
were paved with white marble; and the Folk of the Mountain laboured in it, 
and the Folk of the Wood rejoiced to come there; and all was healed and made 
good, and the houses were filled with men and women and the laughter of 
children, and no window was blind nor any courtyard empty; and after the 
ending of the Third Age of the world into the new age it preserved the 
memory and the glory of the years that were gone. 

In the days that followed his crowning the King sat on his throne in 
the Hall of the Kings and pronounced his judgements. And embassies came 
from 

many lands and peoples, from the East and the South, and from the borders of 
Mirkwood, and from Dunland in the west. And the King pardoned the 
Easterlings that had given themselves up, and sent them away free, and he 
made peace with the peoples of Harad; and the slaves of Mordor he released 




and gave to them all the lands about Lake N®rnen to be their own. And there 
were brought before him many to receive his praise and reward for their 
valour; and last the captain of the Guard brought to him Beregond to be 
judged. 

And the King said to Beregond: 'Beregond, by your sword blood was 
spilled in the Hallows, where that is forbidden. Also you left your post 
without leave of Lord or of Captain. For these things, of old, death was the 
penalty. Now therefore I must pronounce your doom. 

'All penalty is remitted for your valour in battle, and still more 
because all that you did was for the love of the Lord Faramir. Nonetheless 
you must leave the Guard of the Citadel, and you must go forth from the City 
of Minas Tirith.' 

Then the blood left Beregond's face, and he was stricken to the heart 
and bowed his head. But the King said.: 

'So it must be, for you are appointed to the White Company, the Guard 
of Faramir, Prince of Ithilien, and you shall be its captain and dwell in 
Emyn Arnen in honour and peace, and in the service of him for whom you 
risked all, to save him from death.' 

And then Beregond, perceiving the mercy and justice of the King, was 
glad, and kneeling kissed his hand, and departed in joy and content. And 
Aragorn gave to Faramir Ithilien to be his princedom, and bade him dwell in 
the hills of Emyn Arnen within sight of the City. 

'For,' said he, 'Minas Ithil in Morgul Vale shall be utterly destroyed, 
and though it may in time to come be made clean, no man may dwell there for 
many long years.' 

And last of all Aragorn greeted Jomer of Rohan, and they embraced, and 
Aragorn said: 'Between us there can be no word of giving or taking, nor of 
reward; for we are brethren. In happy hour did Eorl ride from the North, and 
never has any league of peoples been more blessed, so that neither has ever 
failed the other, nor shall fail. Now, as you know, we have laid Thjoden the 
Renowned in a tomb in the Hallows, and there he shall lie for ever among the 
Kings of Gondor, if you will. Or if you desire it, we will come to Rohan and 
bring him back to rest with his own people.' 

And Jomer answered: 'Since the day when you rose before me out of the 
green grass of the downs I have loved you, and that love shall not fail. But 
now I must depart for a while to my own realm, where there is much to heal 
and set in order. But as for the Fallen, when all is made ready we will 




return for him; but here let him sleep a while.' 

And Jowyn said to Faramir: 'Now I must go back to my own land and look 
on it once again, and help my brother in his labour; but when one whom I 
long loved as father is laid at last to rest, I will return.' 

So the glad days passed; and on the eighth day of May the Riders of 
Rohan made ready, and rode off by the North-way, and with them went the 
sons 

of Elrond. All the road was lined with people to do them honour and praise 
them, from the Gate of the City to the walls of the Pelennor. Then all 
others that dwelt afar went back to their homes rejoicing; but in the City 
there was labour of many willing hands to rebuild and renew and to remove 
all the scars of war and the memory of the darkness. 

The hobbits still remained in Minas Tirith, with Legolas and Gimli; for 
Aragorn was loth for the fellowship to be dissolved. 'At last all such 
things must end,' he said, 'but I would have you wait a little while longer: 
for the end of the deeds that you have shared in has not yet come. A day 
draws near that I have looked for in all the years of my manhood, and when 
it comes I would have my friends beside me.' But of that day he would say no 
more. 

In those days the Companions of the Ring dwelt together in a fair house 
with Gandalf, and they went to and fro as they wished. And Frodo said to 
Gandalf: 'Do you know what this day is that Aragorn speaks of? For we are 
happy here, and I don't wish to go; but the days are running away, and Bilbo 
is waiting; and the Shire is my home.' 

'As for Bilbo,' said Gandalf, 'he is waiting for the same day, and he 
knows what keeps you. And as for the passing of the days, it is now only May 
and high summer is not yet in; and though all things may seem changed, as if 
an age of the world had gone by, yet to the trees and the grass it is less 
than a year since you set out.' 

'Pippin,' said Frodo, 'didn't you say that Gandalf was less close than 
of old? Fie was weary of his labours then, I think. Now he is recovering.' 

And Gandalf said: 'Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set 
on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep 
their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder. And Aragorn 
himself waits for a sign.' 

There came a day when Gandalf could not be found, and the Companions 




wondered what was going forward. But Gandalf took Aragorn out from the 
City 

by night, and he brought him to the southern feet of Mount Mindolluin; and 
there they found a path made in ages past that few now dared to tread. For 
it led up on to the mountain to a high hallow where only the kings had been 
wont to go. And they went up by steep ways, until they came to a high field 
below the snows that clad the lofty peaks, and it looked down over the 
precipice that stood behind the City. And standing there they surveyed the 
lands, for the morning was come; and they saw the towers of the City far 
below them like white pencils touched by the sunlight, and all the Vale of 
Anduin was like a garden, and the Mountains of Shadow were veiled in a 
golden mist. Upon the one side their sight reached to the grey Emyn Muil, 
and the glint of Rauros was like a star twinkling far off; and upon the 
other side they saw the River like a ribbon laid down to Pelargir, and 
beyond that was a light on the hem of the sky that spoke of the Sea. 

And Gandalf said: This is your realm, and the heart of the greater 
realm that shall be. The Third Age of the world is ended, and the new age is 
begun; and it is your task to order its beginning and to preserve what may 
be preserved. For though much has been saved, much must now pass away; 
and 

the power of the Three Rings also is ended. And all the lands that you see, 
and those that lie round about them, shall be dwellings of Men. For the time 
comes of the Dominion of Men, and the Elder Kindred shall fade or depart.' 

'I know it well, dear friend,' said Aragorn; 'but I would still have 
your counsel.' 

'Not for long now,' said Gandalf. 'The Third Age was my age. I was the 
Enemy of Sauron; and my work is finished. I shall go soon. The burden must 
lie now upon you and your kindred.' 

'But I shall die,' said Aragorn. 'For I am a mortal man, and though 
being what I am and of the race of the West unmingled, I shall have life far 
longer than other men, yet that is but a little while; and when those who 
are now in the wombs of women are born and have grown old, I too shall grow 
old. And who then shall govern Gondor and those who look to this City as to 
their queen, if my desire be not granted? The Tree in the Court of the 
Fountain is still withered and barren. When shall I see a sign that it will 
ever be otherwise?' 

'Turn your face from the green world, and look where all seems barren 




and cold!' said Gandalf. 

Then Aragorn turned, and there was a stony slope behind him running 
down from the skirts of the snow; and as he looked he was aware that alone 
there in the waste a growing thing stood. And he climbed to it, and saw that 
out of the very edge of the snow there sprang a sapling tree no more than 
three foot high. Already it had put forth young leaves long and shapely, 
dark above and silver beneath, and upon its slender crown it bore one small 
cluster of flowers whose white petals shone like the sunlit snow. 

Then Aragorn cried: 'Yj! ut®vienyes! I have found it! Lo! here is a 
scion of the Eldest of Trees! But how comes it here? For it is not itself 
yet seven years old.’ 

And Gandalf coming looked at it, and said: 'Verily this is a sapling of 
the line of Nimloth the fair; and that was a seedling of Galathilion, and 
that a fruit of Telperion of many names, Eldest of Trees. Who shall say how 
it comes here in the appointed hour? But this is an ancient hallow, and ere 
the kings failed or the Tree withered in the court, a fruit must have been 
set here. For it is said that, though the fruit of the Tree comes seldom to 
ripeness, yet the life within may then lie sleeping through many long years, 
and none can foretell the time in which it will awake. Remember this. For if 
ever a fruit ripens, it should be planted, lest the line die out of the 
world. Flere it has lain, hidden on the mountain, even as the race of Elendil 
lay hidden in the wastes of the North. Yet the line of Nimloth is older far 
than your line, King Elessar.' 

Then Aragorn laid his hand gently to the sapling, and lo! it seemed to 
hold only lightly to the earth, and it was removed without hurt; and Aragorn 
bore it back to the Citadel. Then the withered tree was uprooted, but with 
reverence; and they did not burn it, but laid it to rest in the silence of 
Rath Dnnen. And Aragorn planted the new tree in the court by the fountain, 
and swiftly and gladly it began to grow; and when the month of June entered 
in it was laden with blossom. 

'The sign has been given,' said Aragorn, 'and the day is not far off.' 

And he set watchmen upon the walls. 

It was the day before Midsummer when messengers came from Amon D(n 
to 

the City, and they said that there was a riding of fair folk out of the 
North, and they drew near now to the walls of the Pelennor. And the King 
said: 'At last they have come. Fet all the City be made ready!' 




Upon the very Eve of Midsummer, when the sky was blue as sapphire and 
white stars opened in the East, but the West was still golden and the air 
was cool and fragrant, the riders came down the North-way to the gates of 
Minas Tirith. First rode Elrohir and Elladan with a banner of silver, and 
then came Glorfindel and Erestor and all the household of Rivendell, and 
after them came the Lady Galadriel and Celeborn, Lord of Lothlurien, riding 
upon white steeds and with them many fair folk of their land, grey-cloaked 
with white gems in their hair; and last came Master Elrond, mighty among 
Elves and Men, bearing the sceptre of Ann®minas, and beside him upon a 
grey 

palfrey rode Arwen his daughter, Evenstar of her people. 

And Frodo when he saw her come glimmering in the evening, with stars on 
her brow and a sweet fragrance about her, was moved with great wonder, and 
he said to Gandalf: 'At last I understand why we have waited! This is the 
ending. Now not day only shall be beloved, but night too shall be beautiful 
and blessed and all its fear pass away!' 

Then the King welcomed his guests, and they alighted; and Elrond 
surrendered the sceptre, and laid the hand of his daughter in the hand of 
the King, and together they went up into the High City, and all the stars 
flowered in the sky. And Aragorn the King Elessar wedded Arwen Undumiel 
in 

the City of the Kings upon the day of Midsummer, and the tale of their long 
waiting and labours was come to fulfilment. 




Chapter 6. Many Partings 



When the days of rejoicing were over at last the Companions thought of 
returning to their own homes. And Frodo went to the King as he was sitting 
with the Queen Arwen by the fountain, and she sang a song of Valinor, while 
the Tree grew and blossomed. They welcomed Frodo and rose to greet him; 
and 

Aragorn said: 

'I know what you have come to say, Frodo: you wish to return to your 
own home. Well, dearest friend, the tree grows best in the land of its 
sires; but for you in all the lands of the West there will ever be a 
welcome. And though your people have had little fame in the legends of the 
great, they will now have more renown than any wide realms that are no 
more.' 

'It is true that I wish to go back to the Shire,' said Frodo. 'But 
first I must go to Rivendell. For if there could be anything wanting in a 
time so blessed, I missed Bilbo; and I was grieved when among all the 
household of Elrond I saw that he was not come.' 

'Do you wonder at that, Ring-bearer?' said Arwen. 'For you know the 
power of that thing which is now destroyed; and all that was done by that 
power is now passing away. But your kinsman possessed this thing longer than 
you. He is ancient in years now, according to his kind; and he awaits you, 
for he will not again make any long journey save one.' 

'Then I beg leave to depart soon,' said Frodo. 

'In seven days we will go,' said Aragorn. 'For we shall ride with you 
far on the road, even as far as the country of Rohan. In three days now 
Jomer will return hither to bear Thjoden back to rest in the Mark, and we 
shall ride with him to honour the fallen. But now before you go I will 
confirm the words that Faramir spoke to you, and you are made free for ever 
of the realm of Gondor; and all your companions likewise. And if there were 
any gifts that I could give to match with your deeds you should have them; 
but whatever you desire you shall take with you, and you shall ride in 
honour and arrayed as princes of the land.' 

But the Queen Arwen said: 'A gift I will give you. For I am the 
daughter of Elrond. I shall not go with him now when he departs to the 




Havens; for mine is the choice of L®thien, and as she so have I chosen, both 
the sweet and the bitter. But in my stead you shall go, Ring-bearer, when 
the time comes, and if you then desire it. If your hurts grieve you still 
and the memory of your burden is heavy, then you may pass into the West, 
until all your wounds and weariness are healed. But wear this now in memory 
of Elfstone and Evenstar with whom your life has been woven!' 

And she took a white gem like a star that lay upon her breast hanging 
upon a silver chain, and she set the chain about Frodo's neck. ’When the 
memory of the fear and the darkness troubles you,' she said, 'this will 
bring you aid.' 

In three days, as the King had said, Jomer of Rohan came riding to the 
City, and with him came an jored of the fairest knights of the Mark. He was 
welcomed; and when they sat all at table in Merethrond, the Great Hall of 
Feasts, he beheld the beauty of the ladies that he saw and was filled with 
great wonder. And before he went to his rest he sent for Gimli the Dwarf, 
and he said to him: 'Gimli Gluin's son, have you your axe ready?' 

'Nay, lord,' said Gimli, 'but I can speedily fetch it, if there be 
need.' 

'You shall judge,' said Jomer. 'For there are certain rash words 
concerning the Fady in the Golden Wood that lie still between us. And now I 
have seen her with my eyes.' 

'Well, lord,' said Gimli, 'and what say you now?' 

'Alas!' said Jomer. 'I will not say that she is the fairest lady that 
lives.' 

'Then I must go for my axe,' said Gimli. 

'But first I will plead this excuse,' said Jomer. 'Had I seen her in 
other company, I would have said all that you could wish. But now I will put 
Queen Arwen Evenstar first, and I am ready to do battle on my own part with 
any who deny me. Shall I call for my sword?' 

Then Gimli bowed low. 'Nay, you are excused for my part, lord,' he 
said. 'You have chosen the Evening; but my love is given to the Morning. And 
my heart forebodes that soon it will past away for ever.' 

At last the day of departure came, and a great and fair company made 
ready to ride north from the City. Then the kings of Gondor and Rohan went 
to the Hallows and they came to the tombs in Rath Dnnen, and they bore away 
King Thjoden upon a golden bier, and passed through the City in silence. 
Then they laid the bier upon a great wain with Riders of Rohan all about it 




and his banner borne before; and Merry being Thjoden's esquire rode upon the 
wain and kept the arms of the king. 

For the other Companions steeds were furnished according to their 
stature; and Frodo and Samwise rode at Aragorn's side, and Gandalf rode upon 
Shadowfax, and Pippin rode with the knights of Gondor; and Legolas and 
Gimli 

as ever rode together upon Arod. 

In that riding went also Queen Arwen, and Celeborn and Galadriel with 
their folk, and Elrond and his sons; and the princes of Dol Amroth and of 
Ithilien, and many captains and knights. Never had any king of the Mark such 
company upon the road as went with Thjoden Thengel's son to the land of his 
home. 

Without haste and at peace they passed into Anurien, and they came to 
the Grey Wood under Amon D(n; and there they heard a sound as of drums 
beating in the hills, though no living thing could be seen. Then Aragorn let 
the trumpets be blown; and heralds cried: 

'Behold the King Elessar is come! The Forest of Dr®adan he gives to 
Ghvn-buri-ghvn and to his folk, to be their own for ever; and hereafter let 
no man enter it without their leave!' 

Then the drums rolled loudly, and were silent. 

At length after fifteen days of journey the wain of King Thjoden passed 
through the green fields of Rohan and came to Edoras; and there they all 
rested. The Golden Hall was arrayed with fair hangings and it was filled 
with light, and there was held the highest feast that it had known since the 
days of its building. For after three days the Men of the Mark prepared the 
funeral of Thjoden; and he was laid in a house of stone with his arms and 
many other fair things that he had possessed, and over him was raised a 
great mound, covered with green turves of grass and of white evermind. And 
now there were eight mounds on the east -side of the Barrowfield. 

Then the Riders of the King's House upon white horses rode round about 
the barrow and sang together a song of Thjoden Thengel's son that Gljowine 
his minstrel made, and he made no other song after. The slow voices of the 
Riders stirred the hearts even of those who did not know the speech of that 
people; but the words of the song brought a light to the eyes of the folk of 
the Mark as they heard again afar the thunder of the hooves of the North and 
the voice of Eorl crying above the battle upon the Field of Celebrant; and 
the tale of the kings rolled on, and the horn of Helm was loud in the 




mountains, until the Darkness came and King Thjoden arose and rode through 
the Shadow to the fire, and died in splendour, even as the Sun, returning 
beyond hope, gleamed upon Mindolluin in the morning. 

Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day's rising 
he rode singing in the sun, sword unsheathing. 

Hope he rekindled, and in hope ended; 
over death, over dread, over doom lifted 
out of loss, out of life, unto long glory. 

But Merry stood at the foot of the green mound, and he wept, and when 
the song was ended he arose and cried: 

'Thjoden King, Thjoden King! Farewell! As a father you were to me. for 
a little while. Farewell!' 

When the burial was over and the weeping of women was stilled, and 
Thjoden was left at last alone in his barrow, then folk gathered to the 
Golden Hall for the great feast and put away sorrow; for Thjoden had lived 
to full years and ended in honour no less than the greatest of his sires. 

And when the time came that in the custom of the Mark they should drink to 
the memory of the kings, Jowyn Lady of Rohan came forth, golden as the sun 
and white as snow, and she bore a filled cup to Jomer. 

Then a minstrel and loremaster stood up and named all the names of the 
Lords of the Mark in their order: Eorl the Young; and Brego builder of the 
Hall; and Aldor brother of Baldor the hapless; and Frja, and Frjawine, and 
Goldwine, and Djor, and Gram; and Helm who lay hid in Helm's Deep when 
the 

Mark was overrun; and so ended the nine mounds of the west-side, for in that 
time the line was broken, and after came the mounds of the east-side: 
Frjalaf, Helm s sister-son, and Ljofa, and Walda, and Folca, and Folcwine, 
and Fengel, and Thengel, and Thjoden the latest. And when Thjoden was 
named 

Jomer drained the cup. Then Jowyn bade those that served to fill the cups, 
and all there assembled rose and drank to the new king, crying: 'Hail, 
Jomer, King of the Mark!' 

At the last when the feast drew to an end Jomer arose and said: 'Now 
this is the funeral feast of Thjoden the King; but I will speak ere we go of 
tidings of joy, for he would not grudge that I should do so, since he was 
ever a father of Jowyn my sister. Hear then all my guests, fair folk of many 
realms, such as have never before been gathered in this hall! Faramir, 




Steward of Gondor, and Prince of Ithilien, asks that Jowyn Lady of Rohan 
should be his wife, and she grants it full willing. Therefore they shall be 
trothplighted before you all.' 

And Faramir and Jowyn stood forth and set hand in hand; and all there 
drank to them and were glad. 'Thus,' said Jomer, 'is the friendship of the 
Mark and of Gondor bound with a new bond, and the more do I rejoice.' 

'No niggard are you, Jomer,' said Aragorn, 'to give thus to Gondor the 
fairest thing in your realm!' 

Then Jowyn looked in the eyes of Aragorn, and she said: 'Wish me joy, 
my liege-lord and healer!' 

And he answered: 'I have wished thee joy ever since first I saw thee. 

It heals my heart to see thee now in bliss.' 

When the feast was over, those who were to go took leave of King Jomer. 
Aragorn and his knights, and the people of Lurien and of Ri vendell, made 
ready to ride; but Faramir and Imrahil remained at Edoras; and Arwen 
Evenstar remained also, and she said farewell to her brethren. None saw her 
last meeting with Elrond her father, for they went up into the hills and 
there spoke long together, and bitter was their parting that should endure 
beyond the ends of the world. 

At the last before the guests set oat Jomer and Jowyn came to Merry, 
and they said: 'Farewell now, Meriadoc of the Shire and Holdwine of the 
Mark! Ride to good fortune, and ride back soon to our welcome!' 

And Jomer said: 'Kings of old would have laden you with gifts that a 
wain could not bear for your deeds upon the fields of Mundburg; and yet you 
will take naught, you say, but the arms that were given to you. This I 
suffer, for indeed I have no gift that is worthy; but my sister begs you to 
receive this small thing, as a memorial of Dernhelm and of the horns of the 
Mark at the coming of the morning.' 

Then Jowyn gave to Merry an ancient horn, small but cunningly wrought 
all of fair silver with a baldric of green; and wrights had engraven upon it 
swift horsemen riding in a line that wound about it from the tip to the 
mouth; and there were set runes of great virtue. 

'This is an heirloom of our house,' said Jowyn. 'It was made by the 
Dwarves, and came from the hoard of Scatha the Worm. Eorl the Young 
brought 

it from the North. He that blows it at need shall set fear in the hearts of 
his enemies and joy in the hearts of his friends, and they shall hear him 




and come to him.' 

Then Merry took the horn, for it could not be refused, and he kissed 
Jowyn's hand; and they embraced him, and so they parted for that time. 

Now the guests were ready, and they drank the stirrup-cup, and with 
great praise and friendship they departed, and came at length to Helm's 
Deep, and there they rested two days. Then Legolas repaid his promise to 
Gimli and went with him to the Glittering Caves; and when they returned he 
was silent, and would say only that Gimli alone could find fit words to 
speak of them. 'And never before has a Dwarf claimed a victory over an Elf 
in a contest of words,' said he. 'Now therefore let us go to Fangorn and set 
the score right!' 

From Deeping-coomb they rode to Isengard, and saw how the Ents had 
busied themselves. All the stone-circle had been thrown down and removed, 
and the land within was made into a garden filled with orchards and trees, 
and a stream ran through it; but in the midst of all there was a lake of 
clear water, and out of it the Tower of Orthanc rose still, tall and 
impregnable, and its black rock was mirrored in the pool. 

For a while the travellers sat where once the old gates of Isengard had 
stood, and there were now two tall trees like sentinels at the beginning of 
a green -bordered path that ran towards Orthanc; and they looked in wonder at 
the work that had been done, but no living thing could they see far or near. 
But presently they heard a voice calling hoom-hom, hoom-hom; and there 
came 

Treebeard striding down the path to greet them with Quickbeam at his side. 

'Welcome to the Treegarth of Orthanc!' he said. 'I knew that you were 
coming, but I was at work up the valley; there is much still to be done. But 
you have not been idle either away in the south and the east, I hear; and 
all that I hear is good, very good.' Then Treebeard praised all their deeds, 
of which he seemed to have full knowledge; and at last he stopped and looked 
long at Gandalf . 

'Well, come now!' he said. 'You have proved mightiest, and all your 
labours have gone well. Where now would you be going? And why do you 
come 
here?' 

'To see how your work goes, my friend,' said Gandalf, 'and to thank you 
for your aid in all that has been achieved.' 

'Hoom, well, that is fair enough,' said Treebeard; 'for to be sure Ents 




have played their part. And not only in dealing with that, hoom, that 
accursed tree-slayer that dwelt here. For there was a great inrush of those, 
burbrum, those evileyed - blackhanded - bowlegged - flinthearted - 
clawfingered - foulbellied - bloodthirsty, morimciite - sincahonda, hoom , 
well, since you are hasty folk and their full name is as long as years of 
torment, those vermin of ores; and they came over the River and down from 
the North and all round the wood of Laurelindurenan, which they could not 
get into, thanks to the Great ones who are here.’ He bowed to the Lord and 
Lady of Lurien. 

'And these same foul creatures were more than surprised to meet us out 
on the Wold, for they had not heard of us before; though that might be said 
also of better folk. And not many will remember us, for not many escaped us 
alive, and the River had most of those. But it was well for you, for if they 
had not met us, then the king of the grassland would not have ridden far, 
and if he had there would have been no home to return to.' 

'We know it well,' said Aragorn, 'and never shall it be forgotten in 
Minas Tirith or in Edoras.' 

' Never is too long a word even for me,' said Treebeard. 'Not while your 
kingdoms last, you mean; but they will have to last long indeed to seem long 
to Ents.' 

'The New Age begins,' said Gandalf, 'and in this age it may well prove 
that the kingdoms of Men shall outlast you, Fangorn my friend. But now come 
tell me: what of the task that I set you? How is Saruman? Is he not weary of 
Orthanc yet? For I do not suppose that he will think you have improved the 
view from his windows.' 

Treebeard gave Gandalf a long look, a most cunning look, Merry thought. 
'Ah!' he said. 'I thought you would come to that. Weary of Orthanc? Very 
weary at last; but not so weary of his tower as he was weary of my voice. 
Hooml I gave him some long tales, or at least what might be thought long in 
your speech.' 

'Then why did he stay to listen? Did you go into Orthanc?' asked 
Gandalf. 

'Hoom, no, not into Orthanc!' said Treebeard. 'But he came to his 
window and listened, because he could not get news in any other way, and 
though he hated the news, he was greedy to have it; and I saw that he heard 
it all. But I added a great many things to the news that it was good for him 
to think of. He grew very weary. He always was hasty. That was his ruin.' 




1 observe, my good Fangorn,' said Gandalf, 'that with great care you 
say dwelt, was, grew. What about is? Is he dead?' 

’No, not dead, so far as I know,' said Treebeard. 'But he is gone. Yes, 
he is gone seven days. I let him go. There was little left of him when he 
crawled out, and as for that worm-creature of his, he was like a pale 
shadow. Now do not tell me, Gandalf, that I promised to keep him safe; for I 
know it. But things have changed since then. And I kept him until he was 
safe, safe from doing any more harm. You should know that above all I hate 
the caging of live things, and I will not keep even such creatures as these 
caged beyond great need. A snake without fangs may crawl where he will.' 

'You may be right,' said Gandalf; 'but this snake had still one tooth 
left, I think. He had the poison of his voice, and I guess that he persuaded 
you, even you Treebeard, knowing the soft spot in your heart. Well, he is 
gone, and there is no more to be said. But the Tower of Orthanc now goes 
back to the King, to whom it belongs. Though maybe he will not need it.' 

'That will be seen later,' said Aragorn. 'But I will give to Ents all 
this valley to do with as they will, so long as they keep a watch upon 
Orthanc and see that none enter it without my leave.' 

'It is locked,' said Treebeard. 'I made Saruman lock it and give me the 
keys. Quickbeam has them.' 

Quickbeam bowed like a tree bending in the wind and handed to Aragorn 
two great black keys of intricate shape, joined by a ring of steel. 'Now I 
thank you once more,' said Aragorn, 'and I bid you farewell. May your forest 
grow again in peace. When this valley is filled there is room and to spare 
west of the mountains, where once you walked long ago.' 

Treebeard's face became sad. 'Forests may grow,' he said. 'Woods may 
spread. But not Ents. There are no Entings.' 

'Yet maybe there is now more hope in your search,' said Aragorn. 'Lands 
will lie open to you eastward that have long been closed.' 

But Treebeard shook his head and said: 'It is far to go. And there are 
too many Men there in these days. But I am forgetting my manners! Will you 
stay here and rest a while? And maybe there are some that would be pleased 
to pass through Fangorn Forest and so shorten their road home?' He looked at 
Celeborn and Galadriel. 

But all save Legolas said that they must now take their leave and 
depart, either south or west. 'Come, Gimli!' said Legolas. 'Now by Fangorn's 
leave I will visit the deep places of the Entwood and see such trees as are 




nowhere else to be found in Middle-earth. You shall come with me and keep 
your word; and thus we will journey on together to our own lands in Mirkwood 
and beyond.' To this Gimli agreed, though with no great delight, it seemed. 

'Here then at last comes the ending of the Fellowship of the Ring,' 
said Aragorn. 'Yet I hope that ere long you will return to my land with the 
help that you promised.' 

'We will come, if our own lords allow it,' said Gimli. 'Well, farewell, 
my hobbits! You should come safe to your own homes now, and I shall not be 
kept awake for fear of your peril. We will send word when we may, and some 
of us may yet meet at times; but I fear that we shall not all be gathered 
together ever again.' 

Then Treebeard said farewell to each of them in turn, and he bowed 
three times slowly and with great reverence to Celeborn and Galadriel. 'It 
is long, long since we met by stock or by stone, A vanimar, vanimblion 
nostari!' he said. 'It is sad that we should meet only thus at the ending. 

For the world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, 
and I smell it in the air. I do not think we shall meet again.' 

And Celeborn said: 'I do not know, Eldest.' But Galadriel said: 'Not in 
Middle -earth, nor until the lands that lie under the wave are lifted up 
again. Then in the willow-meads of Tasarinan we may meet in the Spring. 
Farewell!' 

Last of all Merry and Pippin said good-bye to the old Ent, and he grew 
gayer as he looked at them. 'Well, my merry folk,' he said, 'will you drink 
another draught with me before you go?' 

'Indeed we will,' they said, and he took them aside into the shade of 
one of the trees, and there they saw that a great stone jar had been set. 

And Treebeard filled three bowls, and they drank; and they saw his strange 
eyes looking at them over the rim of his bowl. 'Take care take care!' he 
said. 'For you have already grown since I saw you last.' And they laughed 
and drained their bowls. 

'Well, good-bye!' he said. 'And don't forget that if you hear any news 
of the Entwives in your land, you will send word to me.' Then he waved his 
great hands to all the company and went off into the trees. 

The travellers now rode with more speed, and they made their way 
towards the Gap of Rohan; and Aragorn took leave of them at last close to 
that very place where Pippin had looked into the Stone of Orthanc. The 




Hobbits were grieved at this parting; for Aragorn had never failed them and 
he had been their guide through many perils. 

'I wish we could have a Stone that we could see all our friends in,' 
said Pippin, ’and that we could speak to them from far away!' 

'Only one now remains that you could use,' answered Aragorn for you 
would not wish to see what the Stone of Minas Tirith would show you. But the 
Palantnr of Orthanc the King will keep, to see what is passing in his realm, 
and what his servants are doing. For do not forget, Peregrin Took, that you 
are a knight of Gondor, and I do not release you from your service. You are 
going now on leave, but I may recall you. And remember, dear friends of the 
Shire, that my realm lies also in the North, and I shall come there one 
day.' 

Then Aragorn took leave of Celeborn and Galadriel; and the Lady said to 
him: 'Elfstone, through darkness you have come to your hope, and have now 
all your desire. Use well the days!' 

But Celeborn said: 'Kinsman, farewell! May your doom be other than 
mine, and your treasure remain with you to the end!' 

With that they parted, and it was then the time of sunset; and when 
after a while they turned and looked back, they saw the King of the West 
sitting upon his horse with his knights about him; and the falling Sun shone 
upon them and made all their harness to gleam like red gold, and the white 
mantle of Aragorn was turned to a flame. Then Aragorn took the green stone 
and held it up, and there came a green fire from his hand. 

Soon the dwindling company, following the Isen, turned west and rode 
through the Gap into the waste lands beyond, and then they turned 
northwards, and passed over the borders of Dunland. The Dunlendings fled and 
hid themselves, for they were afraid of Elvish Folk, though few indeed ever 
came to their country; but the travellers did not heed them, for they were 
still a great company and were well provided with all that they needed; and 
they went on their way at their leisure, setting up their tents when they 
would. 

On the sixth day since their parting from the King they journeyed 
through a wood climbing down from the hills at the feet of the Misty 
Mountains that now marched on their right hand. As they came out again into 
the open country at sundown they overtook an old man leaning on a staff, and 
he was clothed in rags of grey or dirty white, and at his heels went another 
beggar, slouching and whining. 




'Well Saruman!' said Gandalf. ’Where are you going?' 

'What is that to you?' he answered. 'Will you still order my goings, 
and are you not content with my ruin?' 

'You know the answers,' said Gandalf: 'no and no. But in any case the 
time of my labours now draws to an end. The King has taken on the burden. If 
you had waited at Orthanc, you would have seen him, and he would have 
shown 

you wisdom and mercy.' 

'Then all the A more reason to have left sooner,' said Saruman; 'for I 
desire neither of him. Indeed if you wish for an answer to your first 
question, I am seeking a way out of his realm.' 

'Then once more you are going the wrong way,' said Gandalf, 'and I see 
no hope in your journey. But will you scorn our help? For we offer it to 
you.' 

'To me?' said Saruman. 'Nay, pray do not smile at me! I prefer your 
frowns. And as for the Lady here, I do not trust her: she always hated me, 
and schemed for your part. I do not doubt that she has brought you this way 
to have the pleasure of gloating over my poverty. Had I been warned of your 
pursuit, I would have denied you the pleasure.' 

'Saruman,' said Galadriel, 'we have other errands and other cares that 
seem to us more urgent than hunting for you. Say rather that you are 
overtaken by good fortune; for now you have a last chance.' 

'If it be truly the last, I am glad,' said Saruman; 'for I shall be 
spared the trouble of refusing it again. All my hopes are ruined, but I 
would not share yours. If you have any.' 

For a moment his eyes kindled. 'Go!' he said. 'I did not spend long 
study on these matters for naught. You have doomed yourselves, and you 
know 

it. And it will afford me some comfort as I wander to think that you pulled 
down your own house when you destroyed mine. And now, what ship will 
bear 

you back across so wide a sea?' he mocked. 'It will be a grey ship, and full 
of ghosts.' He laughed, but his voice was cracked and hideous. 

'Get up, you idiot!' he shouted to the other beggar, who had sat down 
on the ground; and he struck him with his staff. 'Turn about! If these fine 
folk are going our way, then we will take another. Get on, or I'll give you 
no crust for your supper!' 




The beggar turned and slouched past whimpering: 'Poor old Grnma! Poor 
old Grnma! Always beaten and cursed. How I hate him! I wish I could leave 
him!' 

'Then leave him!' said Gandalf. 

But Wormtongue only shot a glance of his bleared eyes full of terror at 
Gandalf, and then shuffled quickly past behind Saruman. As the wretched pair 
passed by the company they came to the hobbits, and Saruman stopped and 
stared at them; but they looked at him with pity. 

'So you have come to gloat too, have you, my urchins?' he said. 'You 
don't care what a beggar lacks, do you? For you have all you want, food and 
fine clothes, and the best weed for your pipes. Oh yes, I know! I know where 
it comes from. You would not give a pipeful to a beggar, would you?' 

'I would, if I had any,' said Frodo. 

'You can have what I have got left,' said Merry, 'if you will wait a 
moment.' He got down and searched in the bag at his saddle. Then he handed 
to Saruman a leather pouch. 'Take what there is,' he said. 'You are welcome 
to it; it came from the flotsam of Isengard.' 

'Mine, mine, yes and dearly bought!' cried Saruman, clutching at the 
pouch. 'This is only a repayment in token; for you took more, I'll be bound. 
Still, a beggar must be grateful, if a thief returns him even a morsel of 
his own. Well, it will serve you right when you come home, if you find 
things less good in the Southfarthing than you would like. Long may your 
land be short of leaf!' 

'Thank you!' said Merry. 'In that case I will have my pouch back, which 
is not yours and has journeyed far with me. Wrap the weed in a rag of your 
own.' 

'One thief deserves another,' said Saruman, and turned his back on 
Merry, and kicked Wormtongue, and went away towards the wood. 

'Well, I like that!' said Pippin. 'Thief indeed! What of our claim for 
waylaying, wounding, and ore-dragging us through Rohan?' 

'Ah!' said Sam. 'And bought he said. How, I wonder? And I didn't like 
the sound of what he said about the Southfarthing. It's time we got back.' 

'I'm sure it is,' said Frodo. 'But we can't go any quicker, if we are 
to see Bilbo. I am going to Rivendell first, whatever happens.' 

'Yes, I think you had better do that,' said Gandalf. 'But alas for 
Saruman! I fear nothing more can be made of him. He has withered altogether. 
All the same, I am not sure that Treebeard is right: I fancy he could do 




some mischief still in a small mean way.' 

Next day they went on into northern Dunland, where no men now dwelt, 
though it was a green and pleasant country. September came in with golden 
days and silver nights, and they rode at ease until they reached the 
Swanfleet river, and found the old ford, east of the falls where it went 
down suddenly into the lowlands. Far to the west in a haze lay the meres and 
eyots through which it wound its way to the Greyflood: there countless swans 
housed in a land of reeds. 

So they passed into Eregion, and at last a fair morning dawned, 
shimmering above gleaming mists; and looking from their camp on a low hill 
the travellers saw away in the east the Sun catching three peaks that thrust 
up into the sky through floating clouds: Caradhras, Celebdil, and Fanuidhol. 
They were near to the Gates of Moria. 

Here now for seven days they tarried, for the time was at hand for 
another parting which they were loth to make. Soon Celeborn and Galadriel 
and their folk would turn eastward, and so pass by the Redhorn Gate and down 
the Dimrill Stair to the Silverlode and to their own country. They had 
journeyed thus far by the west-ways, for they had much to speak of with 
Elrond and with Gandalf, and here they lingered still in converse with their 
friends. Often long after the hobbits were wrapped in sleep they would sit 
together under the stars, recalling the ages that were gone and all their 
joys and labours in the world, or holding council, concerning the days to 
come. If any wanderer had chanced to pass, little would he have seen or 
heard, and it would have seemed to him only that he saw grey figures, carved 
in stone, memorials of forgotten things now lost in unpeopled lands. For 
they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind; and only 
their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts went to and fro. 

But at length all was said, and they parted again for a while, until it 
was time for the Three Rings to pass away. Quickly fading into the stones 
and the shadows the grey-cloaked people of Lurien rode towards the 
mountains; and those who were going to Rivendell sat on the hill and 
watched, until there came out of the gathering mist a flash; and then they 
saw no more. Frodo knew that Galadriel had held aloft her ring in token of 
farewell. 

Sam turned away and sighed: 'I wish I was going back to Lurien!' 

At last one evening they came over the high moors, suddenly as to 
travellers it always seemed, to the brink of the deep valley of Rivendell 




and saw far below the lamps shining in Elrond's house. And they went down 
and crossed the bridge and came to the doors, and all the house was filled 
with light and song for joy at Elrond's homecoming. 

First of all, before they had eaten or washed or even shed their 
cloaks, the hobbits went in search of Bilbo. They found him all alone in his 
little room. It was littered with papers and pens and pencils; but Bilbo was 
sitting in a chair before a small bright fire. He looked very old, but 
peaceful, and sleepy. 

He opened his eyes and looked up as they came in. 'Hullo, hullo!' he 
said. 'So you've come back? And tomorrow's my birthday, too. How clever of 
you! Do you know, I shall be one hundred and twenty -nine? And in one year 
more, if I am spared, I shall equal the Old Took. I should like to beat him; 
but we shall see.' 

After the celebration of Bilbo's birthday the four hobbits stayed in 
Rivendell for some days, and they sat much with their old friend, who spent 
most of his time now in his room, except at meals. For these he was still 
very punctual as a rule, and he seldom failed to wake up in time for them. 
Sitting round the fire they told him in turn all that they could remember of 
their journeys and adventures. At first he pretended to take some notes; but 
he often fell asleep; and when he woke he would say: 'How splendid! How 
wonderful! But where were we?' Then they went on with the story from the 
point where he had begun to nod. 

The only part that seemed really to rouse him and hold his attention 
was the account of the crowning and marriage of Aragorn. 'I was invited to 
the wedding of course,' he said. 'And I have waited for it long enough. But 
somehow, when it came to it, I found I had so much to do here; and packing 
is such a bother.' 

When nearly a fortnight had passed Frodo looked out of his window and 
saw that there had been a frost in the night, and the cobwebs were like 
white nets. Then suddenly he knew that he must go, and say good-bye to 
Bilbo. The weather was still calm and fair, after one of the most lovely 
summers that people could remember; but October had come, and it must 
break 

soon and begin to rain and blow again. And there was still a very long way 
to go. Yet it was not really the thought of the weather that stirred him. He 
had a feeling that it was time he went back to the Shire. Sam shared it. 

Only the night before he had said: 




'Well, Mr. Frodo, we’ve been far and seen a deal, and yet I don't think 
we've found a better place than this. There's something of everything here, 
if you understand me: the Shire and the Golden Wood and Gondor and kings' 
houses and inns and meadows and mountains all mixed. And yet, somehow, 

I 

feel we ought to be going soon. I'm worried about my gaffer, to tell you the 
truth.' 

'Yes, something of everything, Sam, except the Sea,' Frodo had 
answered; and he repeated it now to himself: 'Except the Sea.' 

That day Frodo spoke to Elrond, and it was agreed that they should 
leave the next morning. To their delight Gandalf said: 'I think I shall come 
too. At least as far as Bree. I want to see Butterbur.' 

In the evening they went to say good-bye to Bilbo. 'Well, if you must 
go, you must,' he said. 'I am sorry. I shall miss you. It is nice just to 
know that you are about the place. But I am getting very sleepy.' Then he 
gave Frodo his mithril-coat and Sting, forgetting that he had already done 
so; and he gave him also three books of lore that he had made at various 
times, written in his spidery hand, and labelled on their red backs: 
Translations from the Elvish, by B.B. 

To Sam he gave a little bag of gold. 'Almost the last drop of the Smaug 
vintage,' he said. May come in useful, if you think of getting married, 

Sam.' Sam blushed. 

'I have nothing much to give to you young fellows,' he said to Merry 
and Pippin, 'except good advice.' And when he had given them a fair sample 
of this, he added a last item in Shire-fashion: 'Don't let your heads get 
too big for your hats! But if you don't finish growing up soon, you are 
going to find hats and clothes expensive.' 

'But if you want to beat the Old Took,' said Pippin, 'I don't see why 
we shouldn't try and beat the Bullroarer.' 

Bilbo laughed, and he produced out of a pocket two beautiful pipes with 
pearl mouth-pieces and bound with fine-wrought silver. 'Think of me when you 
smoke them!' he said. 'The Elves made them for me, but I don't smoke now.' 
And then suddenly he nodded and went to sleep for a little; and when he woke 
up again he said: 'Now where were we? Yes, of course, giving presents. Which 
reminds me: what's become of my ring, Frodo, that you took away?' 

'I have lost it, Bilbo dear,' said Frodo. 'I got rid of it, you know.' 

'What a pity!' said Bilbo. 'I should have liked to see it again. But 




no, how silly of me! That's what you went for, wasn’t it: to get rid of it? 

But it is all so confusing, for such a lot of other things seem to have got 
mixed up with it: Aragorn's affairs, and the White Council and Gondor, and 
the Horsemen, and Southrons, and oliphaunts - did you really see one, Sam? - 
and caves and towers and golden trees, and goodness knows what besides. 

'I evidently came back by much too straight a road from my trip. I 
think Gandalf might have shown me round a bit. But then the auction would 
have been over before I got back, and I should have had even more trouble 
than I did. Anyway it's too late now; and really I think it's much more 
comfortable to sit here and hear about it all. The fire's very cosy here, 
and the food's very good, and there are Elves when you want them. What more 
could one want? 

The Road goes ever on and on 
Out from the door where it began. 

Now far ahead the Road has gone, 

Let others follow it who can! 

Let them a journey new begin, 

But I at last with weary feet 
Will turn towards the lighted inn, 

My evening-rest and sleep to meet. ' 

And as Bilbo murmured the last words his head dropped on his chest and 
he slept soundly. 

The evening deepened in the room, and the firelight burned brighter; 
and they looked at Bilbo as he slept and saw that his face was smiling. For 
some time they sat in silence; and then Sam looking round at the room and 
the shadows flickering on the walls, said softly: 

'I don't think, Mr. Frodo, that he's done much writing while we've been 
away. He won't ever write our story now.' 

At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard. Then he roused 
himself. 'You see, I am getting so sleepy,' he said. 'And when I have time 
to write, I only really like writing poetry. I wonder, Frodo my dear fellow, 
if you would very much mind tidying things up a bit before you go? Collect 
all my notes and papers, and my diary too, and take them with you, if you 
will. You see, I haven't much time for the selection and the arrangement and 
all that. Get Sam to help, and when you've knocked things into shape, come 
back, and I'll run over it. I won't be too critical.' 

'Of course I'll do it!' said Frodo. 'And of course I'll come back soon: 




it won’t be dangerous any more. There is a real king now and he will soon 
put the roads in order.' 

’Thank you, my dear fellow!’ said Bilbo. 'That really is a very great 
relief to my mind.' And with that he fell fast asleep again. 

The next day Gandalf and the hobbits took leave of Bilbo in his room, 
for it was cold out of doors; and then they said farewell to Elrond and all 
his household. 

As Frodo stood upon the threshold, Elrond wished him a fair journey, 
and blessed him, and he said: 

'I think, Frodo, that maybe you will not need to come back, unless you 
come very soon. For about this time of the year, when the leaves are gold 
before they fall, look for Bilbo in the woods of the Shire. I shall be with 
him.' 

These words no one else heard, and Frodo kept them to himself. 




Chapter 7 . Homeward Bound 



At last the hobbits had their faces turned towards home. They were 
eager now to see the Shire again; but at first they rode only slowly, for 
Frodo had been ill at ease. When they came to the Ford of Bruinen, he had 
halted, and seemed loth to ride into the stream; and they noted that for a 
while his eyes appeared not to see them or things about him. All that day he 
was silent. It was the sixth of October. 

'Are you in pain, Frodo?' said Gandalf quietly as he rode by Frodo's 
side. 

'Well, yes I am,' said Frodo. 'It is my shoulder. The wound aches, and 
the memory of darkness is heavy on me. It was a year ago today.' 

'Alas! there are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured,' said 
Gandalf. 

'I fear it may be so with mine,' said Frodo. 'There is no real going 
back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall 
not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long 
burden. Where shall I find rest?' 

Gandalf did not answer. 

By the end of the next day the pain and unease had passed, and Frodo 
was merry again, as merry as if he did not remember the blackness of the day 
before. After that the journey went well, and the days went quickly by; for 
they rode at leisure, and often they lingered in the fair woodlands where 
the leaves were red and yellow in the autumn sun. At length they came to 
Weathertop; and it was then drawing towards evening and the shadow of the 
hill lay dark on the road. Then Frodo begged them to hasten, and he would 
not look towards the hill, but rode through its shadow with head bowed and 
cloak drawn close about him. That night the weather changed, and a wind came 
from the West laden with rain, and it blew loud and chill, and the yellow 
leaves whirled like birds in the air. When they came to the Chetwood already 
the boughs were almost bare, and a great curtain of rain veiled Bree Hill 
from their sight. 

So it was that near the end of a wild and wet evening in the last days 
of October the five travellers rode up the climbing road and came to the 
South-gate of Bree. It was locked fast; and the rain blew in their faces, 




and in the darkening sky low clouds went hurrying by, and their hearts sank 
a little, for they had expected more welcome. 

When they had called many times, at last the Gate-keeper came out, and 
they saw that he carried a great cudgel. He looked at them with fear and 
suspicion; but when he saw that Gandalf was there, and that his companions 
were hobbits, in spite of their strange gear, then he brightened and wished 
them welcome. 

’Come in!' he said, unlocking the gate. 'We won’t stay for news out 
here in the cold and the wet, a ruffianly evening. But old Barley will no 
doubt give you a welcome at The Pony, and there you'll hear all there is to 
hear.' 

'And there you'll hear later all that we say, and more,' laughed 
Gandalf. 'How is Harry?' 

The Gate-keeper scowled. 'Gone,' he said. 'But you'd best ask Barliman. 
Good evening!' 

'Good evening to you!' they said, and passed through; and then they 
noticed that behind the hedge at the road-side a long low hut had been 
built, and a number of men had come out and were staring at them over the 
fence. When they came to Bill Ferny's house they saw that the hedge there 
was tattered and unkempt, and the windows were all boarded up. 

'Do you think you killed him with that apple, Sam?' said Pippin. 

'I'm not so hopeful, Mr. Pippin,' said Sam. 'But I'd like to know what 
became of that poor pony. He's been on my mind many a time and the wolves 
howling and all.' 

At last they came to The Prancing Pony, and that at least looked 
outwardly unchanged; and there were lights behind the red curtains in the 
lower windows. They rang the bell, and Nob came to the door, and opened it a 
crack and peeped through; and when he saw them standing under the lamp he 
gave a cry of surprise. 

'Mr. Butterbur! Master!' he shouted. 'They've come back!' 

'Oh have they? I'll learn them,' came Butterbur's voice, and out he 
came with a rush, and he had a club in his hand. But when he saw who they 
were he stopped short, and the black scowl on his face changed to wonder and 
delight. 

'Nob, you woolly -pated ninny!' he cried. 'Can't you give old friends 
their names? You shouldn't go scaring me like that, with times as they are. 




Well, well! And where have you come from? I never expected to see any of 
you 

folk again, and that's a fact: going off into the Wild with that Strider, 
and all those Black Men about. But I'm right glad to see you, and none more 
than Gandalf. Come in! Come in! The same rooms as - before? They're free. 
Indeed most rooms are empty these days, as I'll not hide from you, for 
you'll find it out soon enough. And I'll see what can be done about supper, 
as soon as may be; but I'm short-handed at present. Hey, Nob you slowcoach! 
Tell Bob! Ah, but there I'm forgetting, Bob's gone: goes home to his folk at 
nightfall now. Well, take the guests' ponies to the stables, Nob! And you'll 
be taking your horse to his stable yourself Gandalf; I don't doubt. A fine 
beast, as I said when I first set eyes on him. Well, come in! Make 
yourselves at home!' 

Mr. Butterbur had at any rate not changed his manner of talking, and 
still seemed to live in his old breathless bustle. And yet there was hardly 
anybody about, and all was quiet; from the Common Room there came a 
low 

murmur of no more than two or three voices. And seen closer in the light of 
two candles that he lit and carried before them the landlord's face looked 
rather wrinkled and careworn. 

He led them down the passage to the parlour that they had used on that 
strange night more than a year ago; and they followed him, a little 
disquieted, for it seemed plain to them that old Barliman was putting a 
brave face on some trouble. Things were not what they had been. But they 
said nothing, and waited. 

As they expected Mr. Butterbur came to the parlour after supper to see 
if all had been to their liking. As indeed it had: no change for the worse 
had yet come upon the beer or the victuals at The Pony at any rate. 'Now I 
won't make so bold as to suggest you should come to the Common Room 
tonight,' said Butterbur. 'You'll be tired; and there isn't many folk there 
this evening, anyway. But if you could spare me half an hour before you go 
to your beds, I would dearly like to have some talk with you, quiet-like by 
ourselves.' 

'That is just what we should like, too,' said Gandalf. 'We are not 
tired. We have been taking things easy. We were wet, cold and hungry, but 
all that you have cured. Come, sit down! And if you have any pipe-weed, 
we'll bless you.' 




'Well, if you’d called for anything else, I'd have been happier,' said 
Butterbur. 'That's just a thing that we're short of, seeing how we've only 
got what we grow ourselves, and that's not enough. There's none to be had 
from the Shire these days. But I'll do what I can.' 

When he came back he brought them enough to last them for a day or two, 
a wad of uncut leaf. 'Southlinch,' he said, 'and the best we have; but not 
the match of Southfarthing, as I've always said though I'm all for Bree in 
most matters, begging your pardon.' 

They put him in a large chair by the wood-fire, and Gandalf sat on the 
other side of the hearth, and the hobbits in low chairs between them; and 
then they talked for many times half an hour, and exchanged all such news as 
Mr. Butterbur wished to hear or give. Most of the things which they had to 
tell were a mere wonder and bewilderment to their host, and far beyond his 
vision; and they brought forth few comments other than: 'You don't say; 
often repeated in defiance of the evidence of Mr. Butterbur's own ears. 'You 
don't say, Mr. Baggins, or is it Mr. Underhill? I'm getting so mixed up. You 
don't say, Master Gandalf! Well I never! Who'd have thought it in our 
times!' 

But he did say much on his own account. Things were far from well, he 
would say. Business was not even fair, it was downright bad. 'No one comes 
nigh Bree now from Outside,' he said. 'And the inside folks, they stay at 
home mostly and keep their doors barred. It all comes of those newcomers and 
gangrels that began coming up the Greenway last year, as you may remember; 
but more came later. Some were just poor bodies running away from trouble; 
but most were bad men, full o' thievery and mischief. And there was trouble 
right here in Bree, bad trouble. Why, we had a real set-to, and there were 
some folk killed, killed dead! If you'll believe me.' 

'I will indeed,' said Gandalf. 'How many?' 

'Three and two,' said Butterbur, referring to the big folk and the 
little. 'There was poor Mat Heathertoes, and Rowlie Appledore, and little 
Tom Pickthorn from over the Hill; and Willie Banks from up-away, and one of 
the Underhills from Staddle: all good fellows, and they're missed. And Harry 
Goatleaf that used to be on the West-gate, and that Bill Ferny, they came in 
on the strangers' side, and they've gone off with them; and it's my belief 
they let them in. On the night of the fight, I mean. And that was after we 
showed them the gates and pushed them out: before the year's end, that was; 
and the fight was early in the New Year, after the heavy snow we had. 




'And now they're gone for robbers and live outside, hiding in the woods 
beyond Archet, and out in the wilds north-away. It's like a bit of the bad 
old times tales tell of, I say. It isn't safe on the road and nobody goes 
far, and folk lock up early. We have to keep watchers all round the fence 
and put a lot of men on the gates at nights.' 

'Well, no one troubled us,' said Pippin, 'and we came along slowly, and 
kept no watch. We thought we'd left all trouble behind us.' 

'Ah, that you haven't, Master, more's the pity,' said Butterbur. 'But 
it's no wonder they left you alone. They wouldn't go for armed folk, with 
swords and helmets and shields and all. Make them think twice, that would. 
And I must say it put me aback a bit when I saw you.' 

Then the hobbits suddenly realized that people had looked at them with 
amazement not out of surprise at their return so much as in wonder at their 
gear. They themselves had become so used to warfare and to riding in 
well-arrayed companies that they had quite forgotten that the bright mail 
peeping from under their cloaks, and the helms of Gondor and the Mark, and 
the fair devices on their shields, would seem outlandish in their own 
country. And Gandalf, too, was now riding on his tall grey horse, all clad 
in white with a great mantle of blue and silver over all, and the long sword 
Glamdring at his side. 

Gandalf laughed. 'Well, well,' he said, 'if they are afraid of just 
five of us, then we have met worse enemies on our travels. But at any rate 
they will give you peace at night while we stay.' 

'How long will that be?' said Butterbur. 'I'll not deny we should be 
glad to have you about for a bit. You see, we're not used to such troubles; 
and the Rangers have all gone away, folk tell me. I don't think we've 
rightly understood till now what they did for us. For there's been worse 
than robbers about. Wolves were howling round the fences last winter. And 
there's dark shapes in the woods, dreadful things that it makes the blood 
run cold to think of. It's been very disturbing, if you understand me.' 

'I expect it has,' said Gandalf. 'Nearly all lands have been disturbed 
these days, very disturbed. But cheer up, Barliman! You have been on the 
edge of very great troubles, and I am only glad to hear that you have not 
been deeper in. But better times are coming. Maybe, better than any you 
remember. The Rangers have returned. We came back with them. And there is 
a 

king again, Barliman. He will soon be turning his mind this way. 




'Then the Greenway will be opened again, and his messengers will come 
north, and there will be comings and goings, and the evil things will be 
driven out of the waste-lands. Indeed the waste in time will be waste no 
longer, and there will be people and fields where once there was 
wilderness.' 

Mr. Butterbur shook his head. 'If there's a few decent respectable folk 
on the roads, that won't do no harm,' he said. 'But we don't want no more 
rabble and ruffians. And we don't want no outsiders at Bree, nor near Bree 
at all. We want to be let alone. I don't want a whole crowd o' strangers 
camping here and settling there and tearing up the wild country.' 

'You will be let alone, Barliman,' said Gandalf. 'There is room enough 
for realms between Isen and Greyflood, or along the shore lands south of the 
Brandywine, without any one living within many days' ride of Bree. And many 
folk used to dwell away north, a hundred miles or more from here, at the far 
end of the Greenway: on the North Downs or by Lake Evendim.' 

'Up away by Deadmen's Dike?' said Butterbur, looking even more dubious. 
'That's haunted land, they say. None but a robber would go there.' 

'The Rangers go there,' said Gandalf. 'Deadmen's Dike, you say. So it 
has been called for long years; but its right name, Barliman, is Fornost 
Erain, Norbury of the Kings. And the King will come there again one day; and 
then you'll have some fair folk riding through.' 

'Well, that sounds more hopeful, I'll allow,' said Butterbur. 'And it 
will be good for business, no doubt. So long as he lets Bree alone.' 

'He will,' said Gandalf. 'He knows it and loves it.' 

'Does he now?' said Butterbur looking puzzled. 'Though I'm sure I don't 
know why he should, sitting in his big chair up in his great castle, 
hundreds of miles away. And drinking wine out of a golden cup, I shouldn't 
wonder. What's The Pony to him, or mugs o' beer? Not but what my beer's 
good, Gandalf. It's been uncommon good, since you came in the autumn of last 
year and put a good word on it. And that's been a comfort in trouble, I will 
say.' 

'Ah!' said Sam. 'But he says your beer is always good.' 

'He says?' 

'Of course he does. He's Strider. The chief of the Rangers. Haven't you 
got that into your head yet?' 

It went in at last, and Butterbur's face was a study in wonder. The 
eyes in his broad face grew round, and his mouth opened wide, and he gasped. 




'Strider!' he exclaimed when he got back his breath. 'Him with a crown and 
all and a golden cup! Well, what are we coming to?' 

'Better times, for Bree at any rate,' said Gandalf. 

'I hope so, I'm sure,' said Butterbur. 'Well, this has been the nicest 
chat I've had in a month of Mondays. And I'll not deny that I'll sleep 
easier tonight and with a lighter heart. You've given me a powerful lot to 
think over, but I'll put that off until tomorrow. I'm for bed, and I've no 
doubt you'll be glad of your beds too. Hey, Nob!' he called, going to the 
door. 'Nob, you slowcoach!' 

'Now!' he said to himself, slapping his forehead. 'Now what does that 
remind me of?' 

'Not another letter you've forgotten. I hope, Mr. Butterbur?' said 
Merry. 

'Now, now, Mr. Brandybuck, don't go reminding me of that! But there, 
you've broken my thought. Now where was I? Nob, stables, ah! that was it. 
I've something that belongs to you. If you recollect Bill Ferny and the 
horsethieving: his pony as you bought, well, it's here. Come back all of 
itself, it did. But where it had been to you know better than me. It was as 
shaggy as an old dog and as lean as a clothes-rail, but it was alive. Nob's 
looked after it.' 

'What! My Bill?' cried Sam. 'Well, I was born lucky, whatever my gaffer 
may say. There's another wish come true! Where is he?' Sam would not go to 
bed until he had visited Bill in his stable. 

The travellers stayed in Bree all the next day, and Mr. Butterbur could 
not complain of his business next evening at any rate. Curiosity overcame 
all fears, and his house was crowded. For a while out of politeness the 
hobbits visited the Common Room in the evening and answered a good 
many 

questions. Bree memories being retentive, Frodo was asked many times if he 
had written his book. 

'Not yet,' he answered. 'I am going home now to put my notes in order.' 

He promised to deal with the amazing events at Bree, and so give a bit of 
interest to a book that appeared likely to treat mostly of the remote and 
less important affairs 'away south'. 

Then one of the younger folk called for a song. But at that a hush 
fell, and he was frowned down, and the call was not repeated. Evidently 
there was no wish for any uncanny events in the Common Room again. 




No trouble by day, nor any sound by night, disturbed the peace of Bree 
while the travellers remained there; but the next morning they got up early, 
for as the weather was still rainy they wished to reach the Shire before 
night, and it was a long ride. The Bree folk were all out to see them off, 
and were in merrier mood than they had been for a year; and those who had 
not seen the strangers in all their gear before gaped with wonder at them: 
at Gandalf with his white beard, and the light that seemed to gleam from 
him, as if his blue mantle was only a cloud over sunshine; and at the four 
hobbits like riders upon errantry out of almost forgotten tales. Even those 
who had laughed at all the talk about the King began to think there might be 
some truth in it. 

'Well, good luck on your road, and good luck to your home-coming! said 
Mr. Butterbur. 'I should have warned you before that all's not well in the 
Shire neither, if what we hear is true. Funny goings on, they say. But one 
thing drives out another, and I was full of my own troubles. But if I may be 
so bold, you've come back changed from your travels, and you look now like 
folk as can deal with troubles out of hand. I don't doubt you'll soon set 
all to rights. Good luck to you! And the oftener you come back the better 
I'll be pleased.' 

They wished him farewell and rode away, and passed through the 
West-gate and on towards the Shire. Bill the pony was with them, and as 
before he had a good deal of baggage, but he trotted along beside Sam and 
seemed well content. 

'I wonder what old Barliman was hinting at,' said Frodo. 

'I can guess some of it,' said Sam gloomily. 'What I saw in the Mirror: 
trees cut down and all, and my old gaffer turned out of the Row. I ought to 
have hurried back quicker.' 

'And something's wrong with the Southfarthing evidently,' said Merry. 
'There's a general shortage of pipe- weed.' 

'Whatever it is,' said Pippin, 'Fotho will be at the bottom of it: you 
can be sure of that.' 

'Deep in, but not at the bottom,' said Gandalf. 'You have forgotten 
Saruman. He began to take an interest in the Shire before Mordor did.' 

'Well, we've got you with us,' said Merry, 'so things will soon be 
cleared up.' 

'I am with you at present,' said Gandalf, 'but soon I shall not be. I 
am not coming to the Shire. You must settle its affairs yourselves; that is 




what you have been trained for. Do you not yet understand? My time is over: 
it is no longer my task to set things to rights, nor to help folk to do so. 

And as for you, my dear friends, you will need no help. You are grown up 
now. Grown indeed very high; among the great you are, and I have no longer 
any fear at all for any of you. 

'But if you would know, I am turning aside soon. I am going to have a 
long talk with Bombadil: such a talk as I have not had in all my time. He is 
a moss -gatherer, and I have been a stone doomed to rolling. But my rolling 
days are ending, and now we shall have much to say to one another.' 

In a little while they came to the point on the East Road where they 
had taken leave of Bombadil; and they hoped and half expected to see him 
standing there to greet them as they went by. But there was no sign of him; 
and there was a grey mist on the Barrow-downs southwards, and a deep veil 
over the Old Forest far away. 

They halted and Frodo looked south wistfully. ’I should dearly like to 
see the old fellow again,’ he said. ’I wonder how he is getting on?’ 

’As well as ever, you may be sure,’ said Gandalf. 'Quite untroubled and 
I should guess, not much interested in anything that we have done or seen, 
unless perhaps in our visits to the Ents. There may be a time later for you 
to go and see him. But if I were you, I should press on now for home, or you 
will not come to the Brandywine Bridge before the gates are locked.' 

'But there aren't any gates,' said Merry, 'not on the Road; you know 
that quite well. There's the Buckland Gate, of course; but they'll let me 
through that at any time.' 

'There weren't any gates, you mean,' said Gandalf. 'I think you will 
find some now. And you might have more trouble even at the Buckland Gate 
than you think. But you'll! manage all right. Good-bye dear friends! Not for 
the last time, not yet. Good-bye!' 

He turned Shadowfax off the Road, and the great horse leaped the green 
dike that here ran beside it; and then at a cry from Gandalf he was gone, 
racing towards the Barrow-downs like a wind from the North. 

'Well here we are, just the four of us that started out together,' said 
Merry. 'We have left all the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost 
like a dream that has slowly faded.' 

'Not to me,' said Frodo. 'To me it feels more like falling asleep 
again.' 




Chapter 8 . The Scouring of the Shire 



It was after nightfall when, wet and tired, the travellers came at last 
to the Brandywine, and they found the way barred. At either end of the 
Bridge there was a great spiked gate; and on the further side of the river 
they could see that some new houses had been built: two-storeyed with narrow 
straight- sided windows, bare and dimly lit, all very gloomy and 
un-Shirelike. 

They hammered on the outer gate and called, but there was at first no 
answer; and then to their surprise someone blew a horn, and the lights in 
the windows went out. A voice shouted in the dark: 

’Who's that? Be off! You can't come in: Can't you read the notice: No 
admittance between sundown and sunrise ?' 

'Of course we can't read the notice in the dark.' Sam shouted back. 

'And if hobbits of the Shire are to be kept out in the wet on a night like 
this, I'll tear down your notice when I find it.' 

At that a window slammed, and a crowd of hobbits with lanterns poured 
out of the house on the left. They opened the further gate, and some came 
over the bridge. When they saw the travellers they seemed frightened. 

'Come along!' said Merry, recognizing one of the hobbits. 'If you don't 
know me, Hob Hayward, you ought to. I am Merry Brandybuck, and I should 
like 

to know what all this is about, and what a Bucklander like you is doing 
here. You used to be on the Hay Gate.' 

'Bless me! If s Master Merry, to be sure, and all dressed up for 
fighting!' said old Hob. 'Why, they said you was dead! Lost in the Old 
Forest by all accounts. I'm pleased to see you alive after all!' 

'Then stop gaping at me through the bars, and open the gate!' said 
Merry. 

'I'm sorry, Master Merry, but we have orders.' 

'Whose orders?' 

'The Chiefs up at Bag End.' 

'Chief? Chief? Do you mean Mr. Lotho?' said Frodo. 

'I suppose so, Mr. Baggins; but we have to say just "the Chief" 
nowadays.' 




'Do you indeed!' said Frodo. 'Well, lam glad he has dropped the 
Baggins at any rate. But it is evidently high time that the family dealt 
with him and put him in his place.' 

A hush fell on the hobbits beyond the gate. 'It won't do no good 
talking that way,' said one. 'He'll get to hear of it. And if you make so 
much noise, you'll wake the Chiefs Big Man.' 

'We shall wake him up in a way that will surprise him,' said Merry. 'If 
you mean that your precious Chief has been hiring ruffians out of the wild, 
then we've not come back too soon.' He sprang from his pony, and seeing the 
notice in the light of the lanterns, he tore it down and threw it over the 
gate. The hobbits backed away and made no move to open it. 'Come on, 
Pippin!' said Merry. 'Two is enough.' 

Merry and Pippin climbed the gate, and the hobbits fled. Another horn 
sounded. Out of the bigger house on the right a large heavy figure appeared 
against a light in the doorway. 

'What's all this,' he snarled as he came forward. 'Gate-breaking? You 
clear out, or I'll break your filthy little necks!' Then he stopped, for he 
had caught the gleam of swords. 

'Bill Ferny,' said Merry, 'if you don't open that gate in ten seconds, 
you'll regret it. I shall set steel to you, if you don't obey. And when you 
have opened the gates you will go through them and never return. You are a 
ruffian and a highway -robber.' 

Bill Ferny flinched and shuffled to the gate and unlocked it. 'Give me 
the key!' said Merry. But the ruffian flung it at his head and then darted 
out into the darkness. As he passed the ponies one of them let fly with his 
heels and just caught him as he ran. He went off with a yelp into the night 
and was never heard of again. 

'Neat work, Bill,' said Sam, meaning the pony. 

'So much for your Big Man,' said Merry. 'We'll see the Chief later. In 
the meantime we want a lodging for the night, and as you seem to have pulled 
down the Bridge Inn and built this dismal place instead, you'll have to put 
us up.' 

'I am sorry, Mr. Merry,' said Hob, 'but it isn't allowed.' 

'What isn't allowed?' 

Taking in folk off-hand like and eating extra food, and all that, said 
Hob. 

'What's the matter with the place?' said Merry. 'Has it been a bad 




year, or what? I thought it had been a fine summer and harvest.' 

'Well no, the year's been good enough,' said Hob. 'We grows a lot of 
food, but we don't rightly know what becomes of it. It's all these 
"gatherers" and "sharers", I reckon, going round counting and measuring and 
taking off to storage. They do more gathering than sharing, and we never see 
most of the stuff again.' 

'Oh come!' said Pippin yawning. 'This is all too tiresome for me 
tonight. We've got food in our bags. Just give us a room to lie down in. 

It'll be better than many places I have seen.' 

The hobbits at the gate still seemed ill at ease, evidently some rule 
or other was being broken; but there was no gainsaying four such masterful 
travellers, all armed, and two of them uncommonly large and strong -looking. 
Frodo ordered the gates to be locked again. There was some sense at any rate 
in keeping a guard, while ruffians were still about. Then the four 
companions went into the hobbit guard-house and made themselves as 
comfortable as they could. It was a bare and ugly place, with a mean little 
grate that would not allow a good fire. In the upper rooms were little rows 
of hard beds, and on every wall there was a notice and a list of Rules. 
Pippin tore them down. There was no beer and very little food, but with what 
the travellers brought and shared out they all made a fair meal; and Pippin 
broke Rule 4 by putting most of next day's allowance of wood on the fire. 

'Well now, what about a smoke, while you tell us what has been 
happening in the Shire?' he said. 

'There isn't no pipe-weed now,' said Hob; 'at least only for the 
Chiefs men. All the stocks seem to have gone. We do hear that waggon-loads 
of it went away down the old road out of the Southfarthing, over Sarn Ford 
way. That would be the end o' last year, after you left. But it had been 
going away quietly before that, in a small way. That Lotho— ' 

'Now you shut up, Hob Hayward!' cried several of the others. 'You know 
talk o' that sort isn't allowed. The Chief will hear of it, and we'll all be 
in trouble.' 

'He wouldn't hear naught, if some of you here weren't sneaks,' rejoined 
Hob hotly. 

'All right, all right!' said Sam. "That's quite enough. I don't want to 
hear no more. No welcome, no beer, no smoke, and a lot of rules and ore-talk 
instead. I hoped to have a rest, but I can see there's work and trouble 
ahead. Let's sleep and forget it till morning!' 




The new ’Chief evidently had means of getting news. It was a good 
forty miles from the Bridge to Bag End, but someone made the journey in a 
hurry. So Frodo and his friends soon discovered. 

They had not made any definite plans, but had vaguely thought of going 
down to Crickhollow together first, and resting there a bit. But now, seeing 
what things were like, they decided to go straight to Hobbiton. So the next 
day they set out along the Road and jogged along steadily. The wind had 
dropped but the sky was grey. The land looked rather sad and forlorn; but it 
was after all the first of November and the fag-end of Autumn. Still there 
seemed an unusual amount of burning going on, and smoke rose from many 
points round about. A great cloud of it was going up far away in the 
direction of the Woody End. 

As evening fell they were drawing near to Frogmorton, a village right 
on the Road, about twenty -two miles from the Bridge. There they meant to 
stay the night; The Floating Log at Frogmorton was a good inn. But as they 
came to the east end of the village they met a barrier with a large board 
saying NO ROAD; and behind it stood a large band of Shirriffs with staves in 
their hands and feathers in their caps, looking both important and rather 
scared. 

’What's all this?' said Frodo, feeling inclined to laugh. 

This is what it is, Mr. Baggins, said the leader of the Shirriffs, a 
two-feather hobbit: 'You're arrested for Gate-breaking, and Tearing up of 
Rules, and Assaulting Gate-keepers, and Trespassing, and Sleeping in 
Shire-buildings without Feave, and Bribing Guards with Food.' 

'And what else?' said Frodo. 

'That'll do to go on with,' said the Shirriff-leader. 

'I can add some more, if you like it,' said Sam. 'Calling your Chief 
Names, Wishing to punch his Pimply Face, and Thinking you Shirriffs look a 
lot of Tom-fools.' 

'There now, Mister, that'll do. It's the Chiefs orders that you're to 
come along quiet. We're going to take you to Bywater and hand you over to 
the Chiefs Men; and when he deals with your case you can have your say. But 
if you don't want to stay in the Fockholes any longer than you need, I 
should cut the say short, if I was you.' 

To the discomfiture of the Shirriffs Frodo and his companions all 
roared with laughter. 'Don't be absurd!' said Frodo. 'I am going where I 
please, and in my own time. I happen to be going to Bag End on business, but 




if you insist on going too, well that is your affair.' 

'Very well, Mr. Baggins,' said the leader, pushing the barrier aside. 

'But don't forget I've arrested you.' 

'I won't,' said Frodo. 'Never. But I may forgive you. Now I am not 
going any further today, so if you'll kindly escort me to The Floating Log , 

I'll be obliged.' 

'I can't do that, Mr. Baggins. The inn's closed. There's a 
Shirriff-house at the far end of the village. I'll take you there. ' 

'All right,' said Frodo. 'Go on and we'll follow.' 

Sam had been looking the Shirriffs up and down and had spotted one that 
he knew. 'Hey, come here Robin Smallburrow!' he called. 'I want a word with 
you.' 

With a sheepish glance at his leader, who looked wrathful but did not 
dare to interfere, Shirriff Smallburrow fell back and walked beside Sam, who 
got down off his pony. 

'Look here, Cock-robin!' said Sam. 'You're Hobbiton-bred and ought to 
have more sense, coming a-waylaying Mr. Frodo and all. And what's all this 
about the inn being closed?' 

'They're all closed,' said Robin. 'The Chief doesn't hold with beer. 
Leastways that is how it started. But now I reckon it's his Men that has it 
all. And he doesn't hold with folk moving about; so if they will or they 
must, then they has to go to the Shirriff-house and explain their business.' 

'You ought to be ashamed of yourself having anything to do with such 
nonsense,' said Sam. 'You used to like the inside of an inn better than the 
outside yourself. You were always popping in, on duty or off.' 

'And so I would be still, Sam, if I could. But don't be hard on me. 

What can I do? You know how I went for a Shirriff seven years ago, before 
any of this began. Gave me a chance of walking round the country and seeing 
folk, and hearing the news, and knowing where the good beer was. But now 
it's different.' 

'But you can give it up, stop Shirriffing, if it has stopped being a 
respectable job,' said Sam. 

'We're not allowed to,' said Robin. 

'If I hear not allowed much oftener,' said Sam, 'I'm going to get 
angry.' 

'Can't say as I'd be sorry to see it,' said Robin lowering his voice. 

'If we all got angry together something might be done. But it's these Men, 




Sam, the Chiefs Men. He sends them round everywhere, and if any of us small 
folk stand up for our rights, they drag him off to the Lockholes. They took 
old Flourdumpling, old Will Whitfoot the Mayor, first, and they’ve taken a 
lot more. Lately it's been getting worse. Often they beat ’em now.' 

'Then why do you do their work far them?' said Sam angrily. 'Who sent 
you to Frogmorton?' 

'No one did. We stay here in the big Shirriff-house. We're the First 
Eastfarthing Troop now. There's hundreds of Shirriffs all told and they want 
more, with all these new rules. Most of them are in it against their will, 
but not all. Even in the Shire there are some as like minding other folk's 
business and talking big. And there's worse than that: there's a few as do 
spy-work for the Chief and his Men.' 

'Ah! So that's how you had news of us, is it?' 

'That's right. We aren't allowed to send by it now, but they use the 
old Quick Post service, and keep special runners at different points. One 
came in from Whitfurrows last night with a "secret message", and another 
took it on from here. And a message came back this afternoon saying you was 
to be arrested and taken to By water, not direct to the Lockholes. The Chief 
wants to see you at once, evidently.' 

'He won't be so eager when Mr. Frodo has finished with him,' said Sam. 

The Shirriff-house at Frogmorton was as bad as the Bridge-house. It had 
only one storey, but it had the same narrow windows, and it was built of 
ugly pale bricks, badly laid. Inside it was damp and cheerless, and supper 
was served on a long bare table that had not been scrubbed for weeks. The 
food deserved no better setting. The travellers were glad to leave the 
place. It was about eighteen miles to Bywater, and they set off at ten 
o'clock in the morning. They would have started earlier, only the delay so 
plainly annoyed the Shirriff-leader. The west wind had shifted northward and 
it was turning colder, but the rain was gone. 

It was rather a comic cavalcade that left the village, though the few 
folk that came out to stare at the 'get-up' of the travellers did not seem 
quite sure whether laughing was allowed. A dozen Shirriffs had been told off 
as escort to the 'prisoners'; but Merry made them march in front, while 
Frodo and his friends rode behind. Merry, Pippin, and Sam sat at their ease 
laughing and talking and singing, while the Shirriffs stumped along trying 
to look stern and important. Frodo, however, was silent and looked rather 
sad and thoughtful. 




The last person they passed was a sturdy old gaffer clipping a hedge. 
'Hullo, hullo!' he jeered. 'Now who's arrested who?' 

Two of the Shirriffs immediately left the party and went towards him. 
'Leader!' said Merry. 'Order your fellows back to their places at once, if 
you don't want me to deal with them!' 

The two hobbits at a sharp word from the leader came back sulkily. 'Now 
get on!' said Merry, and after that the travellers saw to it that their 
ponies' pace was quick enough to push the Shirriffs along as fast as they 
could go. The sun came out, and in spite of the chilly wind they were soon 
puffing and sweating. 

At the Three-Farthing Stone they gave it up. They had done nearly 
fourteen miles with only one rest at noon. It was now three o'clock. They 
were hungry and very footsore and they could not stand the pace. 

'Well, come along in your own time!' said Merry. 'We are going on.' 

'Good-bye, Cock-robin!' said Sam. 'I'll wait for you outside The Green 
Dragon , if you haven't forgotten where that is. Don't dawdle on the way!' 

'You're breaking arrest, that's what you're doing,' said the leader 
ruefully, 'and I can't be answerable.' 

'We shall break a good many things yet, and not ask you to answer ' 
said Pippin. 'Good luck to you!' 

The travellers trotted on, and as the sun began to sink towards the 
White Downs far away on the western horizon they came to Bywater by its 
wide 

pool; and there they had their first really painful shock. This was Frodo 
and Sam's own country, and they found out now that they cared about it more 
than any other place in the world. Many of the houses that they had known 
were missing. Some seemed to have been burned down. The pleasant row of 
old 

hobbit-holes in the bank on the north side of the Pool were deserted, and 
their little gardens that used to run down bright to the water's edge were 
rank with weeds. Worse, there was a whole line of the ugly new houses all 
along Pool Side, where the Hobbiton Road ran close to the bank. An avenue of 
trees had stood there. They were all gone. And looking with dismay up the 
road towards Bag End they saw a tallchimneyofbrickinthedistance.lt 
was pouring out black smoke into the evening air. 

Sam was beside himself. 'I'm going right on, Mr. Frodo!' he cried. 'I'm 
going to see what's up. I want to find my gaffer.' 




'We ought to find out first what we're in for, Sam,' said Merry. 'I 
guess that the "Chief" will have a gang of ruffians handy. We had better 
find someone who will tell us how things are round here.' 

But in the village of By water all the houses and holes were shut, and 
no one greeted them. They wondered at this, but they soon discovered the 
reason of it. When they reached The Green Dragon, the last house on the 
Hobbiton side, now lifeless and with broken windows, they were disturbed to 
see half a dozen large ill-favoured Men lounging against the inn-wall; they 
were squint-eyed and sallow-faced. 

'Like that friend of Bill Ferny's at Bree,' said Sam. 

'Like many that I saw at Isengard,' muttered Merry. 

The ruffians had clubs in their hands and horns by their belts, but 
they had no other weapons, as far as could be seen. As the travellers rode 
up they left the wall and walked into the road, blocking the way. 

'Where d'you think you're going?' said one, the largest and most 
evil-looking of the crew. 'There's no road for you any further. And where 
are those precious Shirriffs?' 

'Coming along nicely,' said Merry. 'A little footsore, perhaps. We 
promised to wait for them here.' 

'Garn, what did I say?' said the ruffian to his mates. 'I told Sharkey 
it was no good trusting those little fools. Some of our chaps ought to have 
been sent.' 

'And what difference would that have made, pray?' said Merry. 'We are 
not used to footpads in this country, but we know how to deal with them.' 

'Footpads, eh?' said the man: 'So that's your tone, is it? Change it, 
or we'll change it for you. You little folk are getting too uppish. Don't 
you trust too much in the Boss's kind heart. Sharkey's come now and he'll do 
what Sharkey says.' 

'And what may that be?' said Frodo quietly. 

'This country wants waking up and setting to rights,' said the ruffian, 

'and Sharkey's going to do it; and make it hard, if you drive him to it. You 
need a bigger Boss. And you'll get one before the year is out, if there's 
any more trouble. Then you'll learn a thing or two, you little rat-folk.' 

'Indeed. I am glad to hear of your plans,' said Frodo. 'I am on my way 
to call on Mr. Lotho, and he may be interested to hear of them too.' 

The ruffian laughed. 'Lotho! He knows all right. Don't you worry. He'll 
do what Sharkey says. Because if a Boss gives trouble, we can change him. 




See? And if little folks try to push in where they’re not wanted, we can put 
them out of mischief. See?' 

’Yes, I see,' said Frodo. ’For one thing, I see that you're behind the 
times and the news here. Much has happened since you left the South. Your 
day is over, and all other ruffians'. The Dark Tower has fallen, and there 
is a King in Gondor. And Isengard has been destroyed, and your precious 
master is a beggar in the wilderness. I passed him on the road. The King’s 
messengers will ride up the Greenway now not bullies from Isengard.' 

The man stared at him and smiled. 'A beggar in the wilderness!' he 
mocked. 'Oh, is he indeed? Swagger it, swagger it, my little cock-a-whoop. 
But that won't stop us living in this fat little country where you have 
lazed long enough. And' - he snapped his fingers in Frodo's face - 'King's 
messengers! That for them! When I see one, I'll take notice, perhaps.' 

This was too much for Pippin. His thoughts went back to the Field of 
Cormallen, and here was a squint-eyed rascal calling the Ring-bearer 'little 
cock-a-whoop'. He cast back his cloak, flashed out his sword, and the silver 
and sable of Gondor gleamed on him as he rode forward. 

'I am a messenger of the King,' he said. 'You are speaking to the 
King's friend, and one of the most renowned in all the lands of the West. 
You are a ruffian and a fool. Down on your knees in the road and ask pardon, 
or I will set this troll's bane in you!' 

The sword glinted in the westering sun. Merry and Sam drew their swords 
also and rode up to support Pippin; but Frodo did not move. The ruffians 
gave back. Scaring Breeland peasants, and bullying bewildered hobbits, had 
been their work. Fearless hobbits with bright swords and grim faces were a 
great surprise. And there was a note in the voices of these newcomers that 
they had not heard before. It chilled them with fear. 

'Go!' said Merry. 'If you trouble this village again, you will regret 
it.' The three hobbits came on, and then the ruffians turned and fled 
running away up the Hobbiton Road; but they blew their horns as they ran. 

'Well, we've come back none too soon,' said Merry. 

'Not a day too soon. Perhaps too late, at any rate to save Lotho,' said 
Frodo. 'Miserable fool, but I am sorry for him.' 

'Save Lotho? Whatever do you mean?' said Pippin. 'Destroy him I should 
say.' 

'I don't think you quite understand things, Pippin,' said Frodo. 'Lotho 
never meant things to come to this pass. He has been a wicked fool, but he's 




caught now. The ruffians are on top, gathering, robbing and bullying, and 
running or ruining things as they like, in his name. And not in his name 
even for much longer. He's a prisoner in Bag End now, I expect, and very 
frightened. We ought to try and rescue him.' 

'Weill am staggered!' said Pippin. 'Of all the ends to our journey 
that is the very last I should have thought of: to have to fight half-ores 
and ruffians in the Shire itself - to rescue Lotho Pimple!' 

'Fight?' said Frodo. 'Well, I suppose it may come to that. But 
remember: there is to be no slaying of hobbits, not even if they have gone 
over to the other side. Really gone over, I mean; not just obeying ruffians' 
orders because they are frightened. No hobbit has ever killed another on 
purpose in the Shire, and it is not to begin now. And nobody is to be killed 
at all, if it can be helped. Keep your tempers and hold your hands to the 
last possible moment!' 

'But if there are many of these ruffians,' said Merry, 'it will 
certainly mean fighting. You won't rescue Fotho, or the Shire, just by being 
shocked and sad, my dear Frodo.' 

'No,' said Pippin. 'It won't be so easy scaring them a second time. 

They were taken by surprise. You heard that horn-blowing? Evidently there 
are other ruffians near at hand. They'll be much bolder when there's more of 
them together. We ought to think of taking cover somewhere for the night. 
After all we're only four, even if we are armed.' 

'I've an idea,' said Sam. 'Fet's go to old Tom Cotton's down South 
Fane! He always was a stout fellow. And he has a lot of lads that were all 
friends of mine.' 

'No!' said Merry. 'It's no good "getting under cover". That is just 
what people have been doing, and just what these ruffians like. They will 
simply come down on us in force, corner us, and then drive us out, or burn 
us in. No, we have got to do something at once.' 

'Do what?' said Pippin. 

'Raise the Shire!' said Merry. 'Now! Wake all our people! They hate all 
this, you can see: all of them except perhaps one or two rascals, and a few 
fools that want to be important, but don't at all understand what is really 
going on. But Shire-folk have been so comfortable so long they don't know 
what to do. They just want a match, though, and they'll go up in fire. The 
Chiefs Men must know that. They'll try to stamp on us and put us out quick. 
We've only got a very short time. 




’Sam, you can make a dash for Cotton's farm, if you like. He’s the 
chief person round here, and the sturdiest. Come on! I am going to blow the 
horn of Rohan, and give them all some music they have never heard before.' 

They rode back to the middle of the village. There Sam turned aside and 
galloped off down the lane that led south to Cotton’s. He had not gone far 
when he heard a sudden clear horn-call go up ringing into the sky. Far over 
hill and field it echoed; and so compelling was that call that Sam himself 
almost turned and dashed back. His pony reared and neighed. 

'On, lad! On!' he cried. 'We'll be going back soon.' 

Then he heard Merry change the note, and up went the Horn-cry of 
Buckland, shaking the air. 

Awake! Awake! Fear, Fire, Foes! Awake! 

Fire, Foes! Awake! 

Behind him Sam heard a hubbub of voices and a great din and slamming of 
doors. In front of him lights sprang out in the gloaming; dogs barked; feet 
came running. Before he got to the lane's end there was Farmer Cotton with 
three of his lads, Young Tom, Jolly, and Nick, hurrying towards him. They 
had axes in their hands, and barred the way. 

'Nay! It's not one of them ruffians,' Sam heard the farmer say. 'It's a 
hobbit by the size of it, but all dressed up queer. Hey!' he cried. 'Who are 
you, and what's all this to-do?' 

'It's Sam, Sam Gamgee. I've come back.' 

Farmer Cotton came up close and stared at him in the twilight. 'Well!' 
he exclaimed. 'The voice is right, and your face is no worse than it was, 

Sam. But I should a' passed you in the street in that gear. You've been in 
foreign parts, seemingly. We feared you were dead.' 

'That I ain't!' said Sam. 'Nor Mr. Frodo. He's here and his friends. 

And that's the to-do. They're raising the Shire. We're going to clear out 
these ruffians, and their Chief too. We're starting now.' 

'Good, good!' cried Farmer Cotton. 'So it's begun at last! I've been 
itching for trouble all this year, but folks wouldn't help. And I've had the 
wife and Rosie to think of. These ruffians don't stick at nothing. But come 
on now, lads! By water is up! We must be in it!' 

'What about Mrs. Cotton and Rosie?' said Sam. 'It isn't safe yet for 
them to be left all alone.' 

'My Nibs is with them. But you can go and help him, if you have a 
mind,' said Farmer Cotton with a grin. Then he and his sons ran off towards 




the village. 

Sam hurried to the house. By the large round door at the top of the 
steps from the wide yard stood Mrs. Cotton and Rosie, and Nibs in front of 
them grasping a hay-fork. 

'It's me!' shouted Sam as he trotted up. ’Sam Gamgee! So don’t try 
prodding me, Nibs. Anyway, I've a mail-shirt on me.' 

He jumped down from his pony and went up the steps. They stared at him 
in silence. 'Good evening, Mrs. Cotton!' he said. 'Hullo Rosie!' 

'Hullo, Sam!' said Rosie. 'Where've you been I They said you were dead; 
but I've been expecting you since the Spring. You haven't hurried have you?' 

'Perhaps not,' said Sam abashed. 'But I'm hurrying now. We're setting 
about the ruffians, and I've got to get back to Mr. Frodo. But I thought I'd 
have a look and see how Mrs. Cotton was keeping, and you, Rosie.' 

'We're keeping nicely, thank you,' said Mrs. Cotton. 'Or should be, if 
it weren't for these thieving ruffians.' 

'Well, be off with you!' said Rosie. 'If you've been looking after Mr. 

Frodo all this while, what d'you want to leave him for, as soon as things 
look dangerous?' 

This was too much for Sam. It needed a week's answer, or none. He 
turned away and mounted his pony. But as he started off, Rosie ran down the 
steps. 

'I think you look fine, Sam,' she said. 'Go on now! But take care of 
yourself, and come straight back as soon as you have settled the ruffians!' 

When Sam got back he found the whole village roused. Already, apart 
from many younger lads, more than a hundred sturdy hobbits were assembled 
with axes, and heavy hammers, and long knives, and stout staves: and a few 
had hunting-bows. More were still coming in from outlying farms. 

Some of the village-folk had lit a large fire, just to enliven things, 
and also because it was one of the things forbidden by the Chief. It burned 
bright as night came on. Others at Merry's orders were setting up barriers 
across the road at each end of the village. When the Shirriffs came up to 
the lower one they were dumbfounded; but as soon as they saw how things 
were, most of them took off their feathers and joined in the revolt. The 
others slunk away. 

Sam found Frodo and his friends by the fire talking to old Tom Cotton, 
while an admiring crowd of Bywater folk stood round and stared. 

'Well, what's the next move?' said Farmer Cotton. 




'I can't say,' said Frodo, 'until I know more. How many of these 
ruffians are there?' 

'That's hard to tell,' said Cotton. 'They moves about and comes and 
goes. There's sometimes fifty of them in their sheds up Hobbiton way; but 
they go out from there roving round, thieving or "gathering" as they call 
it. Still there's seldom less than a score round the Boss, as they names 
him. He's at Bag End, or was; but he don't go outside the rounds now. No one 
s seen him at all, in fact, for a week or two; but the Men don't let no one 
go near.' 

'Hobbiton's not their only place, is it?' said Pippin. 

'No, more's the pity,' said Cotton. 'There's a good few down south in 
Longbottom and by Sarn Ford, I hear; and some more lurking in the Woody 
End; 

and they've sheds at Waymeet. And then there's the Lockholes, as they call 
'em: the old storage -tunnels at Michel Delving that they've made into 
prisons for those as stand up to them. Still I reckon there's not above 
three hundred of them in the Shire all told, and maybe less. We can master 
them, if we stick together.' 

'Have they got any weapons?' asked Merry. 

'Whips, knives, and clubs, enough for their dirty work: that's all 
they've showed so far,' said Cotton. 'But I dare say they've got other gear, 
if it comes to fighting. Some have bows, anyway. They've shot one or two of 
our folk.' 

'There you are, Frodo!' said Merry. 'I knew we should have to fight. 

Well, they started the killing.' 

'Not exactly,' said Cotton. 'Leastways not the shooting. Tooks started 
that. You see our dad Mr. Peregrin, he's never had no truck with this Lotho, 
not from the beginning: said that if anyone was going to play the chief at 
this time of day, it would be the right Thain of the Shire and no upstart. 

And when Lotho sent his Men they got no change out of him. Tooks are lucky, 
they've got those deep holes in the Green Hills, the Great Smials and all, 
and the ruffians can't come at 'em; and they won't let the ruffians come on 
their land. If they do, Tooks hunt 'em. Tooks shot three for prowling and 
robbing. After that the ruffians turned nastier. And they keep a pretty 
close watch on Tookland. No one gets in nor out of it now.' 

'Good for the Tooks!' cried Pippin. 'But someone is going to get in 
again, now. I am off to the Smials. Anyone coming with me to Tuckborough?' 




Pippin rode off with half a dozen lads on ponies. ’See you soon!' he 
cried. 'It's only fourteen miles or so over the fields. I'll bring you back 
an army of Tooks in the morning.' Merry blew a horn-call after them as they 
rode off into the gathering night. The people cheered. 

'All the same,' said Frodo to all those who stood near, 'I wish for no 
killing; not even of the ruffians, unless it must be done, to prevent them 
from hurting hobbits.' 

'All right!' said Merry. 'But we shall be having a visit from the 
Hobbiton gang any time now, I think. They won't come just to talk things 
over. We'll try to deal with them neatly, but we must be prepared for the 
worst. Now I've got a plan.' 

'Very good,' said Frodo. 'You make the arrangements.' 

Just then some hobbits, who had been sent out towards Hobbiton, came 
running in. 'They're coming!' they said. 'A score or more. But two have gone 
off west across country.' 

'To Waymeet, that'll be,' said Cotton, 'to fetch more of the gang. 

Well, it's fifteen mile each way. We needn't trouble about them just yet.' 

Merry hurried off to give orders. Farmer Cotton cleared the street, 
sending everyone indoors, except the older hobbits who had weapons of some 
sort. They had not long to wait. Soon they could hear loud voices, and then 
the tramping of heavy feet. Presently a whole squad of the ruffians came 
down the road. They saw the barrier and laughed. They did not imagine that 
there was anything in this little land that would stand up to twenty of 
their kind together. 

The hobbits opened the barrier and stood aside. 'Thank you!' the Men 
jeered. 'Now run home to bed before you're whipped.' Then they marched along 
the street shouting: 'Put those lights out! Get indoors and stay there! Or 
we'll take fifty of you to the Lockholes for a year. Get in! The Boss is 
losing his temper.' 

No one paid any heed to their orders; but as the ruffians passed, they 
closed in quietly behind and followed them. When the Men reached the fire 
there was Farmer Cotton standing all alone warming his hands. 

'Who are you, and what d'you think you're doing?' said the 
ruffian-leader. 

Farmer Cotton looked at him slowly. 'I was just going to ask you that,' 
he said. 'This isn't your country, and you're not wanted.' 

'Well, you're wanted anyhow,' said the leader. 'We want you. Take him 




lads! Lockholes for him, and give him something to keep him quiet!' 

The Men took one step forward and stopped short. There rose a roar of 
voices all round them, and suddenly they were aware that Farmer Cotton was 
not all alone. They were surrounded. In the dark on the edge of the 
firelight stood a ring of hobbits that had crept up out of the shadows. 

There was nearly two hundred of them, all holding some weapon. 

Merry stepped forward. 'We have met before,' he said to the leader, 

'and I warned you not to come back here. I warn you again: you are standing 
in the light and you are covered by archers. If you lay a finger on this 
farmer, or on anyone else, you will be shot at once. Lay down any weapons 
that you have!' 

The leader looked round. He was trapped. But he was not scared, not now 
with a score of his fellows to back him. He knew too little of hobbits to 
understand his peril. Foolishly he decided to fight. It would be easy to 
break out. 

'At 'em lads!' he cried. 'Let 'em have it!' 

With a long knife in his left hand and a club in the other he made a 
rush at the ring, trying to burst out back towards Hobbiton. He aimed a 
savage blow at Merry who stood in his way. He fell dead with four arrows in 
him: 

That was enough for the others. They gave in. Their weapons were taken 
from them, and they were roped together, and marched off to an empty hut 
that they had built themselves, and there they were tied hand and foot, and 
locked up under guard. The dead leader was dragged off and buried. 

'Seems almost too easy after all, don't it?' said Cotton. 'I said we 
could master them. But we needed a call. You came back in the nick o' time, 
Mr. Merry.' 

'There's more to be done still,' said Merry. 'If you're right in your 
reckoning, we haven't dealt with a tithe of them yet. But it's dark now. I 
think the next stroke must wait until morning. Then we must call on the 
Chief.' 

'Why not now?' said Sam. 'It's not much more than six o'clock. And I 
want to see my gaffer. D'you know what's come of him, Mr. Cotton?' 

'He's not too well, and not too bad, Sam,' said the farmer. 'They dug 
up Bagshot Row, and that was a sad blow to him. He's in one of them new 
houses that the Chiefs Men used to build while they still did any work 
other than burning and thieving: not above a mile from the end of By water. 




But he comes around to me, when he gets a chance, and I see he's better fed 
than some of the poor bodies. All against The Rules, of course. I'd have had 
him with me, but that wasn't allowed.’ 

'Thank'ee indeed, Mr. Cotton, and I'll never forget it,' said Sam. 'But 
I want to see him. That Boss and that Sharkey, as they spoke of, they might 
do a mischief up there before the morning.' 

'All right, Sam,' said Cotton. 'Choose a lad or two, and go and fetch 
him to my house. You'll not have need to go near the old Hobbiton village 
over Water. My Jolly here will show you.' 

Sam went off. Merry arranged for look-outs round the village and guards 
at the barriers during the night. Then he and Frodo went off with Farmer 
Cotton. They sat with the family in the warm kitchen, and the Cottons asked 
a few polite questions about their travels, but hardly listened to the 
answers: they were far more concerned with events in the Shire. 

'It all began with Pimple, as we call him,' said Farmer Cotton; 'and it 
began as soon as you'd gone off, Mr. Frodo. He'd funny ideas had Pimple. 
Seems he wanted to own everything himself, and then order other folk about. 

It soon came out that he already did own a sight more than was good for him; 
and he was always grabbing more, though where he got the money was a 
mystery: mills and malt-houses and inns, and farms, and leaf-plantations. 

He'd already bought Sandyman's mill before he came to Bag End, seemingly. 

'Of course he started with a lot of property in the Southfarthing which 
he had from his dad; and it seems he'd been selling a lot o' the best leaf, 
and sending it away quietly for a year or two. But at the end o' last year 
he began sending away loads of stuff, not only leaf. Things began to get 
short, and winter coming on, too. Folk got angry, but he had his answer. A 
lot of Men, ruffians mostly, came with great waggons, some to carry off the 
goods south-away, and others to stay. And more came. And before we knew 
where we were they were planted here and there all over the Shire, and were 
felling trees and digging and building themselves sheds and houses just as 
they liked. At first goods and damage was paid for by Pimple; but soon they 
began lording it around and taking what they wanted. 

'Then there was a bit of trouble, but not enough. Old Will the Mayor 
set off for Bag End to protest, but he never got there. Ruffians laid hands 
on him and took and locked him up in a hole in Michel Delving, and there he 
is now. And after that, it would be soon after New Year, there wasn't no 
more Mayor, and Pimple called himself Chief Shirriff, or just Chief, and did 




as he liked; and if anyone got "uppish" as they called it, they followed 
Will. So things went from bad to worse. There wasn't no smoke left, save for 
the Men; and the Chief didn't hold with beer, save for his Men, and closed 
all the inns; and everything except Rules got shorter and shorter, unless 
one could hide a bit of one's own when the ruffians went round gathering 
stuff up "for fair distribution": which meant they got it and we didn't, 
except for the leavings which you could have at the Shirriff-houses, if you 
could stomach them. All very bad. But since Sharkey came it's been plain 
ruination.' 

'Who is this Sharkey?' said Merry. 'I heard one of the ruffians speak 
of him.' 

'The biggest ruffian o' the lot, seemingly,' answered Cotton. 'It was 
about last harvest, end o' September maybe, that we first heard of him. 
We've never seen him, but he's up at Bag End; and he's the real Chief now, I 
guess. All the ruffians do what he says; and what he says is mostly hack, 
burn, and ruin; and now it s come to killing. There s no longer even any bad 
sense in it. They cut down trees and let 'em lie, they burn houses and build 
no more. 

'Take Sandyman's mill now. Pimple knocked it down almost as soon as he 
came to Bag End. Then he brought in a lot o' dirty -looking Men to build a 
bigger one and fill it full o' wheels and outlandish contraptions. Only that 
fool Ted was pleased by that, and he works there cleaning wheels for the 
Men, where his dad was the Miller and his own master. Pimple's idea was to 
grind more and faster, or so he said. He's got other mills like it. But 
you've got to have grist before you can grind; and there was no more for the 
new mill to do than for the old. But since Sharkey came they don't grind no 
more corn at all. They're always a-hammering and a-letting out a smoke and a 
stench, and there isn't no peace even at night in Hobbiton. And they pour 
out filth a purpose; they've fouled all the lower Water and it's getting 
down into Brandywine. If they want to make the Shire into a desert, they're 
going the right way about it. I don't believe that fool of a Pimple's behind 
all this. It's Sharkey, I say.' 

'That's right!' put in Young Tom. 'Why, they even took Pimple's old ma, 
that Lobelia, and he was fond of her, if no one else was. Some of the 
Hobbiton folk, they saw it. She comes down the lane with her old umbrella. 
Some of the ruffians were going up with a big cart. 

' "Where be you a-going?" says she. 




' "To Bag End," says they. 

' "What for?" says she. 

' "To put up some sheds for Sharkey," says they. 

' "Who said you could?" says she. 

' "Sharkey," says they. "So get out o' the road, old hagling!" 

' "I'll give you Sharkey, you dirty thieving ruffians!" says she, and 
ups with her umbrella and goes for the leader, near twice her size. So they 
took her. Dragged her off to the Lockholes, at her age too. They’ve took 
others we miss more, but there's no denying she showed more spirit than 
most.' 

Into the middle of this talk came Sam, bursting in with his gaffer. Old 
Gamgee did not look much older, but he was a little deafer. 

'Good evening. Mr. Baggins!' he said. 'Glad indeed I am to see you safe 
back. But I've a bone to pick with you, in a manner o' speaking, if I may 
make so bold. You didn't never ought to have a' sold Bag End, as I always 
said. That's what started all the mischief. And while you're been trapessing 
in foreign parts, chasing Black Men up mountains from what my Sam says, 
though what for he don't make clear, they've been and dug up Bagshot Row and 
ruined my taters!' 

'I am very sorry, Mr. Gamgee,' said Frodo. 'But now I've come back, 

I'll do my best to make amends.' 

'Well, you can't say fairer than that,' said the gaffer. 'Mr. Frodo 
Baggins is a real gentlehobbit, I always have said, whatever you may think 
of some others of the name, begging your pardon. And I hope my Sam's 
behaved 

hisself and given satisfaction?' 

'Perfect satisfaction, Mr. Gamgee,' said Frodo. 'Indeed, if you will 
believe it, he's now one of the most famous people in all the lands, and 
they are making songs about his deeds from here to the Sea and beyond the 
Great River.' Sam blushed, but he looked gratefully at Frodo, for Rosie's 
eyes were shining and she was smiling at him. 

'It takes a lot o' believing,' said the gaffer, 'though I can see he's 
been mixing in strange company. What's come of his weskit? I don't hold with 
wearing ironmongery, whether it wears well or no.' 

Farmer Cotton's household and all his guests were up early next 
morning. Nothing had been heard in the night, but more trouble would 
certainly come before the day was old. 'Seems as if none o' the ruffians 




were left up at Bag End,' said Cotton; 'but the gang from Waymeet will be 
along any time now.' 

After breakfast a messenger from the Tookland rode in. He was in high 
spirits. 'The Thain has raised all our country,' he said, 'and the news is 
going like fire all ways. The ruffians that were watching our land have fled 
off south, those that escaped alive. The Thain has gone after them, to hold 
off the big gang down that way; but he's sent Mr Peregrin back with all the 
other folk he can spare.' 

The next news was less good. Merry, who had been out all night, came 
riding in about ten o'clock. 'There's a big band about four miles away,' he 
said. 'They're coming along the road from Waymeet, but a good many stray 
ruffians have joined up with them. There must be close on a hundred of them; 
and they're fire-raising as they come. Curse them!' 

'Ah! This lot won't stay to talk, they'll kill, if they can,' said 
Farmer Cotton. 'If Tooks don't come sooner, we'd best get behind cover and 
shoot without arguing. There's got to be some fighting before this is 
settled, Mr. Frodo.' 

The Tooks did come sooner. Before long they marched in, a hundred 
strong, from Tuckborough and the Green Hills with Pippin at their head. 
Merry now had enough sturdy hobbitry to deal with the ruffians. Scouts 
reported that they were keeping close together. They knew that the 
countryside had risen against them, and plainly meant to deal with the 
rebellion ruthlessly, at its centre in Bywater. But however grim they, might 
be, they seemed to have no leader among them who understood warfare. 
They 

came on without any precautions. Merry laid his plans quickly. 

The ruffians came tramping along the East Road, and without halting 
turned up the Bywater Road, which ran for some way sloping up between 
high 

banks with low hedges on top. Round a bend, about a furlong from the main 
road, they met a stout barrier of old farm-carts upturned. That halted them. 

At the same moment they became aware that the hedges on both sides, just 
above their heads, were all lined with hobbits. Behind them other hobbits 
now pushed out some more waggons that had been hidden in a field, and so 
blocked the way back. A voice spoke to them from above. 

'Well, you have walked into a trap,' said Merry. 'Your fellows from 
Hobbiton did the same, and one is dead and the rest are prisoners. Fay down 




your weapons ! Then go back twenty paces and sit down. Any who try to 
break 

out will be shot.' 

But the ruffians could not now be cowed so easily. A few of them 
obeyed, but were immediately set on by their fellows. A score or more broke 
back and charged the waggons. Six were shot, but the remainder burst out, 
killing two hobbits, and then scattering across country in the direction of 
the Woody End. Two more fell as they ran. Merry blew a loud horn-call, and 
there were answering calls from a distance. 

'They won't get far,' said Pippin. 'All that country is alive with our 
hunters now.' 

Behind, the trapped Men in the lane, still about four score, tried to 
climb the barrier and the banks, and the hobbits were obliged to shoot many 
of them or hew them with axes. But many of the strongest and most desperate 
got out on the west side, and attacked their enemies fiercely, being now 
more bent on killing than escaping. Several hobbits fell, and the rest were 
wavering, when Merry and Pippin, who were on the east side, came across and 
charged the ruffians. Merry himself slew the leader, a great squint-eyed 
brute like a huge ore. Then he drew his forces off, encircling the last 
remnant of the Men in a wide ring of archers. 

At last all was over. Nearly seventy of the ruffians lay dead on the 
field, and a dozen were prisoners. Nineteen hobbits were killed, and some 
thirty were wounded. The dead ruffians were laden on waggons and hauled off 
to an old sand-pit nearby and there buried: in the Battle Pit, as it was 
afterwards called. The fallen hobbits were laid together in a grave on the 
hill-side, where later a great stone was set up with a garden about it. So 
ended the Battle of By water, 1419, the last battle fought in the Shire, and 
the only battle since the Greenfields, 1147, away up in the Northfarthing. 

In consequence, though it happily cost very few lives, it has a chapter to 
itself in the Red Book, and the names of all those who took part were made 
into a Roll, and learned by heart by Shire-historians. The very considerable 
rise in the fame and fortune of the Cottons dates from this time; but at the 
top of the Roll in all accounts stand the names of Captains Meriadoc and 
Peregrin. 

Frodo had been in the battle, but he had not drawn sword, and his chief 
part had been to prevent the hobbits in their wrath at their losses, from 
slaying those of their enemies who threw down their weapons. When the 




fighting was over, and the later labours were ordered, Merry, Pippin, and 
Sam joined him, and they rode back with the Cottons. They ate a late midday 
meal, and then Frodo said with a sigh: 'Well, I suppose it is time now that 
we dealt with the "Chief".' 

'Yes indeed; the sooner the better,' said Merry. 'And don't be too 
gentle! He's responsible for bringing in these ruffians, and for all the 
evil they have done.' 

Farmer Cotton collected an escort of some two dozen sturdy hobbits. 

'For it's only a guess that there is no ruffians left at Bag End,' he said. 

'We don't know.' Then they set out on foot. Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin 
led the way. 

It was one of the saddest hours in their lives. The great chimney rose 
up before them; and as they drew near the old village across the Water, 
through rows of new mean houses along each side of the road, they saw the 
new mill in all its frowning and dirty ugliness: a great brick building 
straddling the stream, which it fouled with a steaming and stinking 
overflow. All along the By water Road every tree had been felled. 

As they crossed the bridge and looked up the Hill they gasped. Even 
Sam's vision in the Mirror had not prepared him for what they saw. The Old 
Grange on the west side had been knocked down, and its place taken by rows 
of tarred sheds. All the chestnuts were gone. The banks and hedgerows were 
broken. Great waggons were standing in disorder in a field beaten bare of 
grass. Bagshot Row was a yawning sand and gravel quarry. Bag End up. 
beyond 

could not be seen for a clutter of large huts. 

'They've cut it down!' cried Sam. 'They've cut down the Party Tree!' He 
pointed to where the tree, had stood under which Bilbo had made his Farewell 
Speech. It was lying lopped and dead in the field. As if this was the last 
straw Sam burst into tears. 

A laugh put an end to them. There was a surly hobbit lounging over the 
low wall of the mill-yard. He was grimy -faced and black-handed. 'Don't 'ee 
like it, Sam?' he sneered. 'But you always was soft. I thought you'd gone 
off in one o' them ships you used to prattle about, sailing, sailing. What 
d'you want to come back for? We've work to do in the Shire now.' 

'So I see,' said Sam. 'No time for washing, but time for wall -propping. 

But see here, Master Sandy man, I've a score to pay in this village, and 
don't you make it any longer with your jeering, or you'll foot a bill too 




big for your purse.’ 

Ted Sandyman spat over the wall: 'Garn!' he said. 'You can’t touch me. 

I'm a friend o' the Boss's. But he'll touch you all right, if I have any 
more of your mouth.' 

'Don't waste any more words on the fool, Sam!' said Frodo. 'I hope 
there are not many more hobbits that have become like this. It would be a 
worse trouble than all the damage the Men have done.' 

'You are dirty and insolent, Sandyman,' said Merry. 'And also very much 
out of your reckoning. We are just going up the Hill to remove your precious 
Boss. We have dealt with his Men.' 

Ted gaped, for at that moment he first caught sight of the escort that 
at a sign from Merry now marched over the bridge. Dashing back into the mill 
he ran out with a horn and blew it loudly. 

'Save your breath!' laughed Merry. 'I've a better.' Then lifting up his 
silver horn he winded it, and its clear call rang over the Hill; and out of 
the holes and sheds and shabby houses of Hobbiton the hobbits answered, and 
came pouring out, and with cheers and loud cries they followed the company 
up the road to Bag End. 

At the top of the lane the party halted, and Frodo and his friends went 
on; and they came at last to the once beloved place. The garden was full of 
huts and sheds, some so near the old westward windows that they cut off all 
their light. There were piles of refuse everywhere. The door was scarred; 
the bell-chain was dangling loose, and the bell would not ring. Knocking 
brought no answer. At length they pushed and the door yielded. They went in. 
The place stank and was full of filth and disorder: it did not appear to 
have been used for some time. 

'Where is that miserable Lotho hiding?' said Merry. They had searched 
every room and found no living thing save rats and mice. 'Shall we turn on 
the others to search the sheds?' 

'This is worse than Mordor!' said Sam. 'Much worse in a way. It comes 
home to you, as they say; because it is home, and you remember it before it 
was all ruined.' 

'Yes, this is Mordor,' said Frodo. 'Just one of its works. Saruman was 
doing its work all the time, even when he thought he was working for 
himself. And the same with those that Saruman tricked, like Lotho.' 

Merry looked round in dismay and disgust. 'Let's get out!' he said. 'If 
I had known all the mischief he had caused, I should have stuffed my pouch 




down Saruman’s throat.' 

'No doubt, no doubt! But you did not, and so I am able to welcome you 
home.' There standing at the door was Saruman himself, looking well-fed and 
well-pleased; his eyes gleamed with malice and amusement. 

A sudden light broke on Frodo. 'Sharkey!' he cried. 

Saruman laughed. 'So you have heard the name, have you? All my people 
used to call me that in Isengard, I believe. A sign of affection, possibly. ( 

But evidently you did not expect to see me here.' 

'I did not,' said Frodo. 'But I might have guessed. A little mischief 
in a mean way: Gandalf warned me that you were still capable of it. 

'Quite capable,' said Saruman, 'and more than a little. You made me 
laugh, you hobbit-lordlings, riding along with all those great people so 
secure and so pleased with your little selves. You thought you had done very 
well out of it all, and could now just amble back and have a nice quiet time 
in the country. Saruman's home could be all wrecked, and he could be turned 
out, but no one could touch yours. Oh no! Gandalf would look after your 
affairs.' 

Saruman laughed again. 'Not he! When his tools have done their task he 
drops them. But you must go dangling after him, dawdling and talking, and 
riding round twice as far as you needed. "Well," thought I, "if they're such 
fools, I will get ahead of them and teach them a lesson. One ill turn 
deserves another." It would have been a sharper lesson, if only you had 
given me a little more time and more Men. Still I have already done much 
that you will find it hard to mend or undo in your lives. And it will be 
pleasant to think of that and set it against my injuries.' 

'Well, if that is what you find pleasure in,' said Frodo, 'I pity you. 

It will be a pleasure of memory only, I fear. Go at once and never return!' 

The hobbits of the villages had seen Saruman come out of one of the 
huts, and at once they came crowding up to the door of Bag End. When they 
heard Frodo's command, they murmured angrily: 

'Don't let him go! Kill him! He's a villain and a murderer. Kill him!' 

Saruman looked round at their hostile faces and smiled. 'Kill him!' he 
mocked. 'Kill him, if you think there are enough of you, my brave hobbits!' 
He drew himself up and stared at them darkly with his black eyes. 'But do 
not think that when I lost all my goods I lost all my power! Whoever strikes 
me shall be accursed. And if my blood stains the Shire, it shall wither and 
never again be healed.' 




The hobbits recoiled. But Frodo said: 'Do not believe him! He has lost 
all power, save his voice that can still daunt you and deceive you, if you 
let it. But I will not have him slain. It is useless to meet revenge with 
revenge: it will heal nothing. Go, Saruman, by the speediest way!' 

'Worm! Worm!' Saruman called; and out of a nearby hut came 
Wormtongue, 

crawling, almost like a dog. To the road again, Worm!' said Saruman. 'These 
fine fellows and lordlings are turning us adrift again. Come along!' 

Saruman turned to go, and Wormtongue shuffled after him. But even as 
Saruman passed close to Frodo a knife flashed in his hand, and he stabbed 
swiftly. The blade turned on the hidden mail-coat and snapped. A dozen 
hobbits, led by Sam, leaped forward with a cry and flung the villain to the 
ground. Sam drew his sword. 

'No, Sam!' said Frodo. 'Do not kill him even now. For he has not hurt 
me. And in any case I do not wish him to be slain in this evil mood. He was 
great once, of a noble kind that we should not dare to raise our hands 
against. He is fallen, and his cure is beyond us; but I would still spare 
him, in the hope that he may find it.' 

Saruman rose to his feet, and stared at Frodo. There was a strange look 
in his eyes of mingled wonder and respect and hatred. 'You have grown, 
Halfling,' he said. 'Yes, you have grown very much. You are wise, and cruel. 
You have robbed my revenge of sweetness, and now I must go hence in 
bitterness, in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you! Well, I go and I will 
trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. 
You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.' 

He walked away, and the hobbits made a lane for him to pass; but their 
knuckles whitened as they gripped on their weapons. Wormtongue hesitated, 
and then followed his master. 

'Wormtongue!' called Frodo. 'You need not follow him. I know of no evil 
you have done to me. You can have rest and food here for a while, until you 
are stronger and can go your own ways.' 

Wormtongue halted and looked back at him, half prepared to stay. 
Saruman turned. 'No evil?' he cackled. 'Oh no! Even when he sneaks out at 
night it is only to look at the stars. But did I hear someone ask where poor 
Lotho is hiding? You know, don't you, Worm? Will you tell them?' 

Wormtongue cowered down and whimpered: 'No, no!' 

'Then I will,' said Saruman. 'Worm killed your Chief, poor little 




fellow, your nice little Boss. Didn't you, Worm? Stabbed him in his sleep, I 
believe. Buried him, I hope; though Worm has been very hungry lately. No, 
Worm is not really nice. You had better leave him to me.' 

A look of wild hatred came into Wormtongue's red eyes. 'You told me to; 
you made me do it,' he hissed. 

Saruman laughed. 'You do what Sharkey says, always, don't you, Worm? 
Well, now he says: follow!' He kicked Wormtongue in the face as he 
grovelled, and turned and made off. But at that something snapped: suddenly 
Wormtongue rose up, drawing a hidden knife, and then with a snarl like a dog 
he sprang on Saruman's back, jerked his head back, cut his throat, and with 
a yell ran off down the lane. Before Frodo could recover or speak a word, 
three hobbit-bows twanged and Wormtongue fell dead. 

To the dismay of those that stood by, about the body of Saruman a grey 
mist gathered, and rising slowly to a great height like smoke from a fire, 
as a pale shrouded figure it loomed over the Hill. For a moment it wavered, 
looking to the West; but out of the West came a cold wind, and it bent away, 
and with a sigh dissolved into nothing. 

Frodo looked down at the body with pity and horror, for as he looked it 
seemed that long years of death were suddenly revealed in it, and it shrank, 
and the shrivelled face became rags of skin upon a hideous skull. Lifting up 
the skirt of the dirty cloak that sprawled beside it, he covered it over, 
and turned away. 

'And that's the end of that,' said Sam. 'A nasty end, and I wish I 
needn't have seen it; but it's a good riddance.' 

'And the very last end of the War, I hope,' said Merry. 

'I hope so,' said Frodo and sighed. 'The very last stroke. But to think 
that it should fall here, at the very door of Bag End! Among all my hopes 
and fears at least I never expected that.' 

'I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess,' said Sam 
gloomily. 'And that'll take a lot of time and work.' 




Chapter 9 . The Grey Havens 



The clearing up certainly needed a lot of work, but it took less time 
than Sam had feared. The day after the battle Frodo rode to Michel Delving 
and released the prisoners from the Lockholes. One of the first that they 
found was poor Fredegar Bolger, Fatty no longer. He had been taken when the 
ruffians smoked out a band of rebels that he led from their hidings up in 
the Brockenbores by the hills of Scary. 

'You would have done better to come with us after all, poor old 
Fredegar!' said Pippin, as they carried him out too weak to walk. 

He opened an eye and tried gallantly to smile. 'Who's this young giant 
with the loud voice?' he whispered. 'Not little Pippin! What's your size in 
hats now?' 

Then there was Lobelia. Poor thing, she looked very old and thin when 
they rescued her from a dark and narrow cell. She insisted on hobbling out 
on her own feet; and she had such a welcome, and there was such clapping and 
cheering when she appeared, leaning on Frodo's arm but still clutching her 
umbrella, that she was quite touched, and drove away in tears. She had never 
in her life been popular before. But she was crushed by the news of Lotho's 
murder, and she would' not return to Bag End. She gave it back to Frodo, and 
went to her own people, the Bracegirdles of Hardbottle. 

When the poor creature died next Spring-she was after all more than a 
hundred years old - Frodo was surprised and much moved: she had left all 
that remained of her money and of Lotho's for him to use in helping hobbits 
made homeless by the troubles. So that feud was ended. 

Old Will Whitfoot had been in the Lockholes longer than any, and though 
he had perhaps been treated less harshly than some, he needed a lot of 
feeding up before he could look the part of Mayor; so Frodo agreed to act as 
his Deputy, until Mr. Whitfoot was in shape again. The only thing that he 
did as Deputy Mayor was to reduce the Shirriffs to their proper functions 
and numbers. The task of hunting out the last remnant of the ruffians was 
left to Merry and Pippin, and it was soon done. The southern gangs, after 
hearing the news of the Battle of By water, fled out of the land and offered 
little resistance to the Thain. Before the Year's End the few survivors were 
rounded up in the woods, and those that surrendered were shown to the 




borders. 

Meanwhile the labour of repair went on apace, and Sam was kept very 
busy. Hobbits can work like bees when the mood and the need comes on 
them. 

Now there were thousands of willing hands of all ages, from the small but 
nimble ones of the hobbit lads and lasses to the well-worn and horny ones of 
the gaffers and gammers. Before Yule not a brick was left standing of the 
new Shirriff-houses or of anything that had been built by 'Sharkey's Men'; 
but the bricks were used to repair many an old hole, to make it snugger and 
drier. Great stores of goods and food, and beer, were found that had been 
hidden away by the ruffians in sheds and barns and deserted holes, and 
especially in the tunnels at Michel Delving and in the old quarries at 
Scary; so that there was a great deal better cheer that Yule than anyone had 
hoped for. 

One of the first things done in Hobbiton, before even the removal of 
the new mill, was the clearing of the Hill and Bag End, and the restoration 
of Bagshot Row. The front of the new sand-pit was all levelled and made into 
a large sheltered garden, and new holes were dug in the southward face, back 
into the Hill, and they were lined with brick. The Gaffer was restored to 
Number Three; and he said often and did not care who heard it: 

'It's an ill wind as blows nobody no good, as I always say. And All's 
well as ends Better!' 

There was some discussion of the name that the new row should be given. 
Battle Gardens was thought of, or Better Smials. But after a while in 
sensible hobbit-fashion it was just called New Row. It was a purely Bywater 
joke to refer to it as Sharkey's End. 

The trees were the worst loss and damage, for at Sharkey's bidding they 
had been cut down recklessly far and wide over the Shire; and Sam grieved 
over this more than anything else. For one thing, this hurt would take long 
to heal, and only his great-grandchildren, he thought, would see the Shire 
as it ought to be. 

Then suddenly one day, for he had been too busy for weeks to give a 
thought to his adventures, he remembered the gift of Galadriel. He brought 
the box out and showed it to the other Travellers (for so they were now 
called by everyone), and asked their advice. 

'I wondered when you would think of it,' said Frodo. 'Open it!' 

Inside it was filled with a grey dust, soft and fine, in the middle of 




which was a seed, like a small nut with a silver shale. ’What can I do with 
this?' said Sam. 

'Throw it in the air on a breezy day and let it do its work!' said 
Pippin. 

'On what?' said Sam. 

'Choose one spot as a nursery, and see what happens to the plants 
there,' said Merry. 

'But I'm sure the Lady would not like me to keep it all for my own 
garden, now so many folk have suffered,' said Sam. 

'Use all the wits and knowledge you have of your own, Sam,' said Frodo, 
'and then use the gift to help your work and better it. And use it 
sparingly. There is not much here, and I expect every grain has a value.' 

So Sam planted saplings in all the places where specially beautiful or 
beloved trees had been destroyed, and he put a grain of the precious dust in 
the soil at the root of each. He went up and down the Shire in this labour; 
but if he paid special attention to Hobbiton and By water no one blamed him. 
And at the end he found that he still had a little of the dust left; so he 
went to the Three-Farthing Stone, which is as near the centre of the Shire 
as no matter, and cast it in the air with his blessing. The little silver 
nut he planted in the Party Field where the tree had once been; and he 
wondered what would come of it. All through the winter he remained as 
patient as he could, and tried to restrain himself from going round 
constantly to see if anything was happening. 

Spring surpassed his wildest hopes. His trees began to sprout and grow, 
as if time was in a hurry and wished to make one year do for twenty. In the 
Party Field a beautiful young sapling leaped up: it had silver bark and long 
leaves and burst into golden flowers in April. It was indeed a mallorn, and 
it was the wonder of the neighbourhood. In after years, as it grew in grace 
and beauty, it was known far and wide and people would come long journeys 
to 

see it: the only mallorn west of the Mountains and east of the Sea, and one 
of the finest in the world. 

Altogether 1420 in the Shire was a marvellous year. Not only was there 
wonderful sunshine and delicious rain, in due times and perfect measure, but 
there seemed something more: an air of richness and growth, and a gleam of a 
beauty beyond that of mortal summers that flicker and pass upon this 
Middle -earth. All the children born or begotten in that year, and there were 




many, were fair to see and strong, and most of them had a rich golden hair 
that had before been rare among hobbits. The fruit was so plentiful that 
young hobbits very nearly bathed in strawberries and cream; and later they 
sat on the lawns under the plum-trees and ate, until they had made piles of 
stones like small pyramids or the heaped skulls of a conqueror, and then 
they moved on. And no one was ill, and everyone was pleased, except those 
who had to mow the grass. 

In the Southfarthing the vines were laden, and the yield of 'leaf was 
astonishing; and everywhere there was so much corn that at Harvest every 
barn was stuffed. 'The Northfarthing barley was so fine that the beer of 
1420 malt was long remembered and became a byword. Indeed a generation 
later 

one might hear an old gaffer in an inn, after a good pint of well-earned 
ale, put down his mug with a sigh: 'Ah! that was proper fourteen-twenty, 
that was!' 

Sam stayed at first at the Cottons' with Frodo; but when the New Row 
was ready he went with the Gaffer. In addition to all his other labours he 
was busy directing the cleaning up and restoring of Bag End; but he was 
often away in the Shire on his forestry work. So he was not at home in early 
March and did not know that Frodo had been ill. On the thirteenth of that 
month Farmer Cotton found Frodo lying on his bed; he was clutching a white 
gem that hung on a chain about his neck and he seemed half in a dream. 

'It is gone for ever,' he said, 'and now all is dark and empty.' 

But the fit passed, and when Sam got back on the twenty -fifth, Frodo 
had recovered, and he said nothing about himself. In the meanwhile Bag End 
had been set in order, and Merry and Pippin came over from Crickhollow 
bringing back all the old furniture and gear, so that the old hole soon 
looked very much as it always had done. 

When all was at last ready Frodo said: 'When are you going to move in 
and join me, Sam?' 

Sam looked a bit awkward. 

'There is no need to come yet, if you don't want to,' said Frodo. 'But 
you know the Gaffer is close at hand, and he will be very well looked after 
by Widow Rumble.' 

It s not that, Mr. Frodo, said Sam, and he went ver red. 

'Well, what is it?' 

'It's Rosie, Rose Cotton,' said Sam. 'It seems she didn't like my going 




abroad at all, poor lass; but as I hadn't spoken, she couldn’t say so. And I 
didn't speak, because I had a job to do first. But now I have spoken, and 
she says: "Well, you've wasted a year, so why wait longer?" "Wasted?" I 
says. "I wouldn't call it that." Still I see what she means. I feel torn in 
two, as you might say.' 

'I see,' said Frodo: 'you want to get married, and yet you want to live 
with me in Bag End too? But my dear Sam, how easy! Get married as soon as 
you can, and then move in with Rosie. There's room enough in Bag End for as 
big a family as you could wish for.' 

And so it was settled. Sam Gamgee married Rose Cotton in the Spring of 
1420 (which was also famous for its weddings), and they came and lived at 
Bag End. And if Sam thought himself lucky, Frodo knew that he was more 
lucky 

himself; for there was not a hobbit in the Shire that was looked after with 
such care. When the labours of repair had all been planned and set going he 
took to a quiet life, writing a great deal and going through all his notes. 

Ele resigned the office of Deputy Mayor at the Free Fair that mid-summer, and 
dear old Will Whitfoot had another seven years of presiding at Banquets. 

Merry and Pippin lived together for some time at Crickhollow, and there 
was much coming and going between Buckland and Bag End. The two 
young 

Travellers cut a great dash in the Shire with their songs and their tales 
and their finery, and their wonderful parties. 'Lordly' folk called them, 
meaning nothing but good; for it warmed all hearts to see them go riding by 
with their mail-shirts so bright and their shields so splendid, laughing and 
singing songs of far away; and if they were now large and magnificent, they 
were unchanged otherwise, unless they were indeed more fairspoken and 
more 

jovial and full of merriment than ever before. 

Frodo and Sam, however, went back to ordinary attire, except that when 
there was need they both wore long grey cloaks, finely woven and clasped at 
the throat with beautiful brooches; and Mr. Frodo wore always a white jewel 
on a chain that he often would finger. 

All things now went well, with hope always of becoming still better; 
and Sam was as busy and as full of delight as even a hobbit could wish. 
Nothing for him marred that whole year, except for some vague anxiety about 
his master. Frodo dropped quietly out of all the doings of the Shire, and 




Sam was pained to notice how little honour he had in his own country. Few 
people knew or wanted to know about his deeds and adventures; their 
admiration and respect were given mostly to Mr. Meriadoc and Mr. Peregrin 
and (if Sam had known it) to himself. Also in the autumn there appeared a 
shadow of old troubles. 

One evening Sam came into the study and found his master looking very 
strange. He was very pale and his eyes seemed to see things far away. 

’What's the matter, Mr. Frodo?' said Sam. 

'I am wounded,' he answered, 'wounded; it will never really heal.' 

But then he got up, and the turn seemed to pass, and he was quite 
himself the next day. It was not until afterwards that Sam recalled that the 
date was October the sixth. Two years before on that day it was dark in the 
dell under Weathertop. 

Time went on, and 1421 came in. Frodo was ill again in March, but with 
a great effort he concealed it, for Sam had other things to think about. The 
first of Sam and Rosie's children was born on the twenty-fifth of March, a 
date that Sam noted. 

'Well, Mr. Frodo,' he said. 'I'm in a bit of a fix. Rose and me had 
settled to call him Frodo, with your leave; but it's not him, it's her. 

Though as pretty a maidchild as any one could hope for, taking after Rose 
more than me, luckily. So we don't know what to do.' 

'Well, Sam,' said Frodo, 'what's wrong with the old customs? Choose a 
flower name like Rose. Half the maidchildren in the Shire are called by such 
names, and what could be better?' 

'I suppose you're right, Mr. Frodo,' said Sam. 'I've heard some 
beautiful names on my travels, but I suppose they're a bit too grand for 
daily wear and tear, as you might say. The Gaffer, he says: "Make it short, 
and then you won't have to cut it short before you can use it." But if it's 
to be a flower-name, then I don't trouble about the length: it must be a 
beautiful flower, because, you see, I think she is very beautiful, and is 
going to be beautifuller still.' 

Frodo thought for a moment. 'Well, Sam, what about elanor, the 
sun-star, you remember the little golden flower in the grass of Lothlurien?' 

'You're right again, Mr. Frodo!' said Sam delighted. 'That's what I 
wanted.' 

Little Elanor was nearly six months old, and 1421 had passed to its 
autumn, when Frodo called Sam into the study. 




'It will be Bilbo's Birthday on Thursday, Sam,' he said. 'And he will 
pass the Old Took. He will be a hundred and thirty-one!' 

'So he will!' said Sam. 'He's a marvel!' 

'Well, Sam,' said Frodo. 'I want you to see Rose and find out if she 
can spare you, so that you and I can go off together. You can't go far or 
for a long time now, of course,' he said a little wistfully. 

'Well, not very well, Mr. Frodo.' 

'Of course not. But never mind. You can see me on my way. Tell Rose 
that you won't be away very long, not more than a fortnight; and you'll come 
back quite safe.' 

'I wish I could go all the way with you to Rivendell, Mr. Frodo, and 
see Mr. Bilbo,' said Sam. 'And yet the only place I really want to be in is 
here. I am that torn in two.' 

'Poor Sam! It will feel like that, I am afraid,' said Frodo. 'But you 
will be healed. You were meant to be solid and whole, and you will be.' 

In the next day or two Frodo went through his papers and his writings 
with Sam, and he handed over his keys. There was a big book with plain red 
leather covers; its tall pages were now almost filled. At the beginning 
there were many leaves covered with Bilbo's thin wandering hand; but most of 
it was written in Frodo's firm flowing script. It was divided into chapters 
but Chapter 80 was unfinished, and after that were some blank leaves. The 
title page had many titles on it, crossed out one after another, so: 

My Diary. My Unexpected Journey. There and Back Again. And What 
Happened After. 

Adventures of Five Hobbits. The Tale of the Great Ring, compiled by 
Bilbo Baggins from his own observations and the accounts of his friends . 
What we did in the War of the Ring. 

Here Bilbo's hand ended and Frodo had written: 

THE DOWNFALL 

OF THE 

LORD OF THE RINGS 

AND THE 

RETURN OF THE KING 



(as seen by the Little People; being the memoirs of Bilbo and Frodo of 




the Shire, supplemented by the accounts of their friends and the learning of 
the Wise.) 

Together with extracts from Books of Lore translated by Bilbo in 
Rivendell. 

'Why, you have nearly finished it, Mr. Frodo!' Sam exclaimed. 'Well, 
you have kept at it, I must say.' 

'I have quite finished, Sam,' said Frodo. 'The last pages are for you.' 

On September the twenty-first they set out together, Frodo on the pony 
that had borne him all the way from Minas Tirith, and was now called 
Strider; and Sam on his beloved Bill. It was a fair golden morning, and Sam 
did not ask where they were going: he thought he could guess. 

They took the Stock Road over the hills and went towards the Woody End, 
and they let their ponies walk at their leisure. They camped in the Green 
Hills, and on September the twenty-second they rode gently down into the 
beginning of the trees as afternoon was wearing away. 

'If that isn't the very tree you hid behind when the Black Rider first 
showed up, Mr. Frodo!' said Sam pointing to the left. 'It seems like a dream 
now.' 

It was evening, and the stars were glimmering in the eastern sky as 
they passed the ruined oak and turned and went on down the hill between the 
hazel -thickets. Sam was silent, deep in his memories. Presently he became 
aware that Frodo was singing softly to himself, singing the old 
walking-song, but the words were not quite the same. 

Still round the corner there may wait 
Anew road or a secret gate; 

And though I oft have passed them by, 

A day will come at last when I 
Shall take the hidden paths that run 
West of the Moon, East of the Sun. 

And as if in answer, from down below, coming up the road out of the 
valley, voices sang: 

A! Elbereth Gilthoniel! 
silivren penna mnriel 
o menel aglar elenath, 

Gilthoniel, A! Elbereth! 

We still remember, we who dwell 
In this far land beneath the trees 




The starlight on the Western Seas. 

Frodo and Sam halted and sat silent in the soft shadows, until they saw 
a shimmer as the travellers came towards them. 

There was Gildor and many fair Elven folk; and there to Sam's wonder 
rode Elrond and Galadriel. Elrond wore a mantle of grey and had a star upon 
his forehead, and a silver harp was in his hand, and upon his finger was a 
ring of gold with a great blue stone, Vilya, mightiest of the Three. But 
Galadriel sat upon a white palfrey and was robed all in glimmering white, 
like clouds about the Moon; for she herself seemed to shine with a soft 
light. On her finger was Nenya, the ring wrought of mithril, that bore a 
single white stone flickering like a frosty star. Riding slowly behind on a 
small grey pony, and seeming to nod in his sleep, was Bilbo himself. 

Elrond greeted them gravely and graciously, and Galadriel smiled upon 
them. 'Well, Master Samwise,' she said. 'I hear and see that you have used 
my gift well. The Shire shall now be more than ever blessed and beloved.' 
Sam bowed, but found nothing to say. Ele had forgotten how beautiful the Lady 
was. 

Then Bilbo woke up and opened his eyes. 'Hullo, Frodo!' he said. 'Well, 

I have passed the Old Took today! So that's settled. And now I think I am 
quite ready to go on another journey. Are you coming?' 

'Yes, I am coming,' said Frodo. 'The Ring -bearers should go together.' 

'Where are you going, Master?' cried Sam, though at last he understood 
what was happening. 

'To the Havens, Sam,' said Frodo. 

'And I can't come.' 

'No, Sam. Not yet anyway, not further than the Havens. Though you too 
were a Ring -bearer, if only for a little while. Your time may come. Do not 
be too sad, Sam. You cannot be always torn in two. You will have to be one 
and whole, for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do.' 

'But,' said Sam, and tears started in his eyes, 'I thought you were 
going to enjoy the Shire, too. for years and years, after all you have 
done.' 

'So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried 
to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be 
so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, 
so that others may keep them. But you are my heir: all that I had and might 
have had I leave to you. And also you have Rose, and Elanor; and Frodo-lad 




will come, and Rosie-lass, and Merry, and Goldilocks, and Pippin; and 
perhaps more that I cannot see. Your hands and your wits will be needed 
everywhere. You will be the Mayor, of course, as long as you want to be, and 
the most famous gardener in history; and you will read things out of the Red 
Book, and keep alive the memory of the age that is gone, so that people will 
remember the Great Danger and so love their beloved land all the more. And 
that will keep you as busy and as happy as anyone can be, as long as your 
part of the Story goes on. 

'Come now, ride with me!' 

Then Elrond and Galadriel rode on; for the Third Age was over, and the 
Days of the Rings were passed, and an end was come of the story and song of 
those times. With them went many Elves of the High Kindred who would 
no 

longer stay in Middle-earth; and among them, filled with a sadness that was 
yet blessed and without bitterness, rode Sam, and Frodo, and Bilbo, and the 
Elves delighted to honour them. 

Though they rode through the midst of the Shire all the evening and all 
the night, none saw them pass, save the wild creatures; or here and there 
some wanderer in the dark who saw a swift shimmer under the trees, or a 
light and shadow flowing through the grass as the Moon went westward. And 
when they had passed from the Shire, going about the south skirts of the 
White Downs, they came to the Far Downs, and to the Towers, and looked on 
the distant Sea; and so they rode down at last to Mithlond, to the Grey 
Havens in the long firth of Lune. 

As they came to the gates Cnrdan the Shipwright came forth to greet 
them. Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and he was grey and old, 
save that his eyes were keen as stars; and he looked at them and bowed, and 
said: ’All is now ready.' 

Then Cnrdan led them to the Havens, and there was a white ship lying, 
and upon the quay beside a great grey horse stood a figure robed all in 
white awaiting them. As he turned and came towards them Frodo saw that 
Gandalf now wore openly upon his hand the Third Ring, Nary a the Great, and 
the stone upon it was red as fire. Then those who were to go were glad, for 
they knew that Gandalf also would take ship with them. 

But Sam was now sorrowful at heart, and it seemed to him that if the 
parting would be bitter, more grievous still would be the long road home 
alone. But even as they stood there, and the Elves were going aboard, and 




all was being made ready to depart, up rode Merry and Pippin in great haste. 
And amid his tears Pippin laughed. 

'You tried to give us the slip once before and failed, Frodo.' he said. 

This time you have nearly succeeded, but you have failed again. It was not 
Sam, though, that gave you away this time, but Gandalf himself!' 

'Yes,' said Gandalf; 'for it will be better to ride back three together 
'than one alone. Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea 
comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not 
say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.' 

Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went 
aboard; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship 
slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of 
Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost. And the ship went out into 
the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain 
Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing 
that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in 
the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and 
was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green 
country under a swift sunrise. 

But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness as he stood at the Haven; 
and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow on the waters that was 
soon lost in the West. There still he stood far into the night, hearing only 
the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-earth, and the 
sound of them sank deep into his heart. Beside him stood Merry and Pippin, 
and they were silent. 

At last the three companions turned away, and never again looking back 
they rode slowly homewards; and they spoke no word to one another until they 
came back to the Shire, but each had great comfort in his friends on the 
long grey road. 

At last they rode over the downs and took the East Road, and then Merry 
and Pippin rode on to Buckland; and already they were singing again as they 
went. But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was 
ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire 
within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew 
him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap. 

He drew a deep breath. 'Well, I'm back,' he said. 




1 As the records of Gondor relate this was Argeleb II, the twentieth of 
the Northern line, which came to an end with Arvedui three hundred years 
later. 

2 Thus, the years of the Third Age in the reckoning of the Elves and 
the D®nedain may be found by adding 1600 to the dates of Shire-reckoning. 

1 See Appendix B: annals 1451, 1462, 1482; and note at end of Appendix 
C. 

1 Represented in much reduced form in Appendix B as far as the end of 
the Third Age. 

* See note, III 490. 

* Elves (and Hobbits) always refer to the Sun as She. 

* The Brandywine River 

* See Note in Appendix F: Of the Elves. 

1 See Appendix F under Ents 

1 Every month in the Shire-calendar had 30 days. 

1 See App. F, 520. 

( There were thirty days in March (or Rethe) in the Shire calendar. 

( It was probably Orkish in origin: sharky, 'old man'.